China’s Employment and Tourism Data Reveal a Sinking Economy

Commentary A recent Chinese state media report once again recognized the Chinese market is facing pressure due to weak consumer spending and high unemployment. The last time the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mentioned the weakened market was in December 2021, when Party leader Xi Jinping presided over an annual central economic work conference in Beijing. But each time the economy is mentioned, the regime’s mouthpiece would conceal reality by touting that the “sound momentum of the Chinese economy” has maintained “a high quality economic development in the world under the unified leadership of the Party.” What Is the Actual Unemployment Rate? A recent official report on employment inadvertently revealed the true situation of the job market. On March 3, Beijing released its 2021 work report on achieving economic goals, touting employment. “In 2021, 12.69 million new urban jobs were created, meeting 115% of the target,” the report reads. That means the actual target quota for the number of jobs created in 2021 was 11.03 million. Earlier on Feb. 9, Beijing announced that at the national level, 200 million people had temporary employment at the end of 2021 and more than 16 percent of this group graduated from higher education in both 2020 and 2021. What’s not clear is whether or not the 12.69 million new urban jobs include temporary employment. On Feb. 28, China released its 2021 economic and social development statistical bulletin, claiming positive growth in most aspects, including population. A total of 13.879 million students graduated from general and vocational colleges and higher educational institutions. That’s 1.189 million people more than the new urban jobs. Even if all the new jobs were designated to the graduates, many of them would be occupying entry-level positions or labor-intensive jobs—which means even less opportunities for other job seekers. The CCP’s latest employment data should have been carefully calculated to avoid embarrassment. But unfortunately, the harsh reality can’t be covered up. According to the official data released at the end of 2021, there were 746.52 million people employed nationwide, including 467.73 million urban workers, and 292.51 million migrant workers who relocated to the cities from rural areas. However, the total of urban workers and migrant workers add up to a total of 760.24 million workers, that’s 13.72 million more workers than the published nationwide employment of 746.52 million. It’s unclear if the 13.72 million workers are categorized as unemployed or if Beijing just made a mistake in making up the number. According to the statistics bureau, migrant workers are not counted in the urban population, and naturally they are not included in the urban employment population figure. Thus, the 12.69 million new urban jobs in 2021 did not include jobs held by migrant workers. Under the current economic situation, the number of new jobs for the nonurban population in 2021 should be far less than what Beijing had reported, and the number of unemployed migrant workers should be higher than previously reported. When Beijing admitted there were 200 million people with temporary employment at the end of 2021, it’s in fact admitting that, of the 746.52 million people employed nationwide, it’s approximately 26.79 percent of the unemployment rate in China—a more realistic number. As for the 12.69 million new urban jobs, I highly suspect that it’s a fabricated number. In 2021, the CCP cracked down on the internet sector and the after-school tutoring programs, which led to massive layoffs and wiped out tons of jobs. Moreover, the strict pandemic lockdown measures in cities have only further weakened the job market. So where are the so-called new jobs? A Chinese security guard wears a mask to protect against COVID-19 as media and staff scan their health code before visiting the National Speed Skating Oval during an organized tour in Beijing, China, on Jan. 22, 2021. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images) Weak Tourism Industry Beijing proposed in both 2020 and 2021 that all Pary administrative organs should adopt a tight fiscal policy. On Feb. 22, the various departments had set a fixed budget for the long term. A decrease in consumer spending is a key indicator of an economic downturn. The massive unemployment and a substantial reduction of income will inevitably cut down spending. The 2021 data on income and consumption revealed the clues. According to the 2021 statistical bulletin, there were 3.25 billion domestic tourists, a 12.8 percent increase from 2020, the year when COVID-19 broke out. There were 6.01 billion domestic tourists in 2019, according to official data. In 2020 and 2021, the number of domestic tourists was cut by more than half. Likewise, domestic tourism revenue has also dropped significantly. The domestic tourism revenue announced in 2019 was 5,725.1 billion yuan ($905.84 billion) and dropped to 2,919.1 billion yuan ($461.87 billion) in 2021. In 2019, the CCP reported

China’s Employment and Tourism Data Reveal a Sinking Economy

Commentary

A recent Chinese state media report once again recognized the Chinese market is facing pressure due to weak consumer spending and high unemployment.

The last time the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mentioned the weakened market was in December 2021, when Party leader Xi Jinping presided over an annual central economic work conference in Beijing.

But each time the economy is mentioned, the regime’s mouthpiece would conceal reality by touting that the “sound momentum of the Chinese economy” has maintained “a high quality economic development in the world under the unified leadership of the Party.”

What Is the Actual Unemployment Rate?

A recent official report on employment inadvertently revealed the true situation of the job market.

On March 3, Beijing released its 2021 work report on achieving economic goals, touting employment. “In 2021, 12.69 million new urban jobs were created, meeting 115% of the target,” the report reads.

That means the actual target quota for the number of jobs created in 2021 was 11.03 million.

Earlier on Feb. 9, Beijing announced that at the national level, 200 million people had temporary employment at the end of 2021 and more than 16 percent of this group graduated from higher education in both 2020 and 2021.

What’s not clear is whether or not the 12.69 million new urban jobs include temporary employment.

On Feb. 28, China released its 2021 economic and social development statistical bulletin, claiming positive growth in most aspects, including population. A total of 13.879 million students graduated from general and vocational colleges and higher educational institutions.

That’s 1.189 million people more than the new urban jobs. Even if all the new jobs were designated to the graduates, many of them would be occupying entry-level positions or labor-intensive jobs—which means even less opportunities for other job seekers.

The CCP’s latest employment data should have been carefully calculated to avoid embarrassment. But unfortunately, the harsh reality can’t be covered up.

According to the official data released at the end of 2021, there were 746.52 million people employed nationwide, including 467.73 million urban workers, and 292.51 million migrant workers who relocated to the cities from rural areas.

However, the total of urban workers and migrant workers add up to a total of 760.24 million workers, that’s 13.72 million more workers than the published nationwide employment of 746.52 million. It’s unclear if the 13.72 million workers are categorized as unemployed or if Beijing just made a mistake in making up the number.

According to the statistics bureau, migrant workers are not counted in the urban population, and naturally they are not included in the urban employment population figure. Thus, the 12.69 million new urban jobs in 2021 did not include jobs held by migrant workers.

Under the current economic situation, the number of new jobs for the nonurban population in 2021 should be far less than what Beijing had reported, and the number of unemployed migrant workers should be higher than previously reported.

When Beijing admitted there were 200 million people with temporary employment at the end of 2021, it’s in fact admitting that, of the 746.52 million people employed nationwide, it’s approximately 26.79 percent of the unemployment rate in China—a more realistic number.

As for the 12.69 million new urban jobs, I highly suspect that it’s a fabricated number.

In 2021, the CCP cracked down on the internet sector and the after-school tutoring programs, which led to massive layoffs and wiped out tons of jobs. Moreover, the strict pandemic lockdown measures in cities have only further weakened the job market.

So where are the so-called new jobs?

beijing virus bus
beijing virus bus
A Chinese security guard wears a mask to protect against COVID-19 as media and staff scan their health code before visiting the National Speed Skating Oval during an organized tour in Beijing, China, on Jan. 22, 2021. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Weak Tourism Industry

Beijing proposed in both 2020 and 2021 that all Pary administrative organs should adopt a tight fiscal policy. On Feb. 22, the various departments had set a fixed budget for the long term.

A decrease in consumer spending is a key indicator of an economic downturn. The massive unemployment and a substantial reduction of income will inevitably cut down spending. The 2021 data on income and consumption revealed the clues.

According to the 2021 statistical bulletin, there were 3.25 billion domestic tourists, a 12.8 percent increase from 2020, the year when COVID-19 broke out. There were 6.01 billion domestic tourists in 2019, according to official data. In 2020 and 2021, the number of domestic tourists was cut by more than half.

Likewise, domestic tourism revenue has also dropped significantly. The domestic tourism revenue announced in 2019 was 5,725.1 billion yuan ($905.84 billion) and dropped to 2,919.1 billion yuan ($461.87 billion) in 2021.

In 2019, the CCP reported international tourism revenue of $131.3 billion; and 169.21 million Chinese citizens went on vacation abroad. There was no such data in the 2021 statistical bulletin.

It can be assumed that when international travel is limited, people would conduct more domestic travel. But China’s actual domestic travel and revenue did not show such a trend. This reflects the overall downturn of the domestic consumption by the Chinese.

The halved tourism revenue is a clear indication of the severe impact on related tourism services—such as transportation, accommodation, food, and shopping—that certainly would only worsen the situation of the job market.

Perhaps all the aforementioned realities make it difficult for the CCP to continue fabricating data without inadvertently exposing the truth.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Zhong Yuan

Follow

Zhong Yuan is a researcher focused on China’s political system, the country’s democratization process, human rights situation, and Chinese citizens’ livelihood. He began writing commentaries for the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times in 2020.