As Beijing keeps enforcing strict zero-Covid measures, firms struggle, and layoffs are expected due to shrinking business operations.

According to official data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the unemployment rate in April increased to 6.1 percent, the highest since February 2020, when the pandemic first started.

The population’s unemployment rate for those aged 16-24 surged to 18.2 percent in April.

Experts said the Chinese economic downturn fueled by Covid-related lockdowns is hurting businesses. In addition, regulatory crackdowns are hitting tech firms very hard.

Alibaba and Tencent announced their most significant layoffs this year as they prepared to cut tens of thousands of jobs this year.

Tencent said it could cut over 15% of its total workforce, or about 39,000 employees.

Another Chinese internet giant, JD.com, also plans to cut its workforce across a wide range of its company.

Not only do companies face large-scale layoffs, but other sectors are also in the same position. For example, Midea, China’s home appliance firm, is expected to lay off workers due to disappointing results.

China’s Premier Li Keqiang recently warned of the country’s grave employment situation following the sweeping lockdowns as part of Beijing’s zero-Covid policy.

Finding a job during the pandemic has become a challenge for college graduates.

The number of college graduates in mainland China hit a record high this year, reaching 10.76 million. However, securing a job for these graduates has become a top priority for tens of millions of families. But according to a survey conducted by human resources firm Wise Recruitment of 18,000 fresh college graduates, as of April this year, only 15.4 percent of new graduates found suitable jobs.

Graduate students from prestigious universities are competing for unrelated positions or jobs for which they are overqualified has sparked heated debate. For example, recently, a Ph.D. graduate in atomic nuclear physics from Peking University sparked attention by applying for a law enforcement position in Beijing’s city management department.

China News Weekly reported on May 26 that in a small county in Zhejiang province with a population of less than 200,000, almost all of the final candidates for 24 positions advertised came from well-known universities. Over 90% of them were master’s degree students.

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