Chinese Communists Suspend Release of Record High Youth Unemployment Rate

(p. B1) The Chinese government, facing an expected seventh consecutive monthly increase in youth unemployment, said Tuesday [Aug. 15, 2023] that it had instead suspended release of the information.

The unemployment rate among 16- to 24-year-olds in urban areas hit 21.3 percent, a record, in June and has risen every month this year. It was widely forecast by economists to have climbed further last month.

The decision to scrub a widely watched report could exacerbate the concerns expressed by investors and executives who say ever-tightening government control of information is making it harder to do business in China.

Fu Linghui, a spokesman of the National Bureau of Statistics, said at a news briefing that the government would stop making public employment information “for youth and other age groups.” He said the surveys that government researchers use to collect the data “need to be further improved and optimized.”

China’s youth unemployment rate has doubled in the last four years, a period of economic volatility induced by the “zero Covid” measures imposed by Beijing that left companies wary of hiring, interrupted education for many students, and made it hard to get the internships that had often led to job offers.

The announcement drew more than 140 million views on the Chinese social media site Weibo within a few hours. Many people (p. B3) commenting online, some turning to sarcasm, said they believed the government suspended the report to try to hide negative information. Others said they believed the public had the right to be informed.

. . .

Young people in China are facing a big gap between labor demand and supply. According to official data, 11.6 million students were expected to graduate college or university this year — the most ever and nearly one million more than last year. Future classes are expected to be even larger, while economic growth had started to slow even before the pandemic.

. . .

Even becoming an entry-level civil servant working for the government is harder these days. Last year, a record 2.6 million people applied to take the national civil service exam to compete for only 37,100 entry-level positions.

Xi Jinping, the country’s top leader, has called for young people to go to remote areas to find work — to “eat bitterness,” a Chinese expression that refers to enduring hardship.

For the full story, see:

Claire Fu. “China Scraps Jobs Report On the Young.” The New York Times (Wednsday, August 16 2023): B1 & B3.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Aug. 15, 2023, and has the title “China Suspends Report on Youth Unemployment, Which Was at a Record High.”)

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