According to the latest economic data released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, youth unemployment was reported at 17.9% in September, slightly declining from the record high of 19.9% in August and 19.3% in July.

In contrast, the national unemployment rate in urban areas was up 0.2% from the previous month to 5.5%. The unemployment rate of migrant agricultural household registration personnel was also 5.5%.  

Even though the youth unemployment rate shows some positives, the pandemic’s impact on employment continues, and migrant workers are seriously affected.

By the end of the third quarter, the total rural labor force was about 183 million, with average working hours being 47.8 hours per week.

Wang Pingping, director of the Department of Population and Employment Statistics, said the pandemic had created some fluctuations in the employment market since the beginning of this year. The unemployment rate in urban areas was stable for the first two months, then increased to 5.8% and 6.1% in March and April, respectively, in line with the spread of COVID. 

After May, the pandemic prevention and control situation improved. Authorities implemented policies and measures to stabilize the economy and employment. As a result, the surveyed unemployment rate fell to 5.5% in June, 5.4% in July, and 5.3% in August. However, as the pandemic worsened, the rate increased again and stood at 5.6% in September.

Zhang Chenggang, Capital University director of the China New Employment Form Research Center, said the risk of world economic recession is increasing. The weakening of external demand will pressure China’s exports, causing increased unemployment in the manufacturing sector. 

Worsening the situation is the impact of the pandemic. The contractionary effect of domestic demand will continue to affect various industries, and employment demand lacks growth momentum.

Xi Jinping is facing severe economic challenges in his third term as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. Economic growth over the past 10 years has relied too much on construction and investment to meet ambitious annual economic growth targets, leading to soaring debt. 

With youth unemployment at record highs, economic growth near record lows, a housing crisis, and eye-popping debt levels, he must rethink the unsustainable model of relying on investment to fuel the economy.

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