China Halts Publication of Youth Jobless Data Amid Soaring Unemployment Rate

China Halts Publication of Youth Jobless Data Amid Soaring Unemployment Rate - China's statistic bureau said on Aug. 15 that it would stop releasing the youth unemployment data, citing the need to "optimize" data collection methods amid the surging jobless rate among youths in the country.

China Halts Publication of Youth Jobless Data Amid Soaring Unemployment Rate

China Halts Publication of Youth Jobless Data Amid Soaring Unemployment Rate

China's statistic bureau said on Aug. 15 that it would stop releasing the youth unemployment data, citing the need to "optimize" data collection methods amid the surging jobless rate among youths in the country.

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) spokesman Fu Linghui said the number of university students has been increasing, and there is a need to "further research" the definition of the age range currently set at 16 to 24.

"The main responsibility of current students is studying. Society has different views on whether students looking for jobs before graduation should be included in labor force surveys and statistics," he told reporters.

Mr. Fu said the suspension was necessary because "the economy and society are constantly developing and changing"; therefore, "statistical work needs to be continuously improved."

"At present, the majority of graduating university students have already confirmed their employment destination, and their employment situation is generally stable," he remarked.

The NBS reported last month that the youth unemployment rate increased to a record high of 21.3 percent in June.

This marked a consecutive increase over six months, with preceding rates from January to May standing at 17.3 percent, 18.1 percent, 19.7 percent, 20.4 percent, and 20.8 percent, respectively.

People attend a job fair in Huaian, in China's eastern Jiangsu Province, on May 26, 2023. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
People attend a job fair in Huaian, in China's eastern Jiangsu Province, on May 26, 2023. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the China Macroeconomic Forum's (CMF) report, the ongoing youth unemployment crisis could persist for the next 10 years and "worsen in the short term." Youth unemployment in China is no longer just a cyclical problem but “a systemic and trending one,” it stated.

China’s unemployment rate for people aged 16–24 would sit high throughout the year, averaging around 20.3 percent.

Considering the number of college graduates this year exceeded 11 million, the report said the youth unemployment problem would be more severe in the third quarter of this year.

“If [unemployment problem is] mishandled, it will trigger other social situations outside the economic sphere and even become a fuse for political issues,” warned the state-run academic platform.

The CMF report said a decline in the growth of high-tech industries may be one of the most critical factors contributing to the rise in the unemployment rate among young people, as has been evident in the past five months.

Weak Economic Data

The youth unemployment data suspension was announced after the release of factory and retail sales data sparked a rare backlash on social media amid growing frustration about employment prospects in the country.

Retail sales rose by 2.5 percent in July, down from a 3.1 percent increase in the previous month. Industrial output grew 3.7 percent from last year, slowing from the 4.4 percent pace seen in June.

The NBS stated that while the national economy showed signs of recovery last month, the international political and economic situation remains "intricate and complicated." It said the domestic demand "remains insufficient and the foundation for economic recovery needs to be further consolidated."

"We must intensify the role of macro policies in regulating the economy and make solid efforts to expand domestic demand, shore up confidence and prevent risks," the report reads.

Anne Zhang, Lynn Xu, and Reuters contributed to this report.