The 20th National Congress of the CCP will be held this fall. The Chinese authorities are describing this year as a “success.” Still, it does not seem like that: The “zero-covid” policy, city lockdowns, and the Russo-Ukrainian War have brought unprecedented pressure on the Chinese economy, leading to the unemployment rate of China’s urban youth population to increase almost 20%.
The Chinese media pointed out that, at present, China’s youth unemployment rate of 19.3% is already very high globally, about three times the youth unemployment rate in Korea and Japan and nearly twice the youth unemployment rate in other developed countries.
The youth unemployment rate has risen sharply month by month this year. In July, 10,76 million new university students will graduate and enter the labor market. The youth unemployment rate in July in past years has generally increased by about 2 points compared to June. Therefore, the youth unemployment rate will indeed surpass 20% in July this year, reaching about 22%.
At the same time, graduate contract salaries, which best reflect the psychology of the economy and labor supply and demand, have fallen by 12% year on year, an early warning sign of overcapacity of labor supply in general.
Some analysts point out that China’s job market is the worst in decades, with one in five young Chinese unemployed. This has been likened to a “social dynamite” and has become the most problematic thing for those in power within the CCP.
Germany’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes that a 25-year-old Chinese person who goes by the name Amanda, after completing an undergraduate degree in foreign languages at Nanjing University, studied for a master’s degree in education in Beijing. Still, after graduating, she could not find a job suitable for her qualifications, so she could only work part-time in a bar.
Today, many young Chinese people are in the same situation as Amanda: they have a high level of education, many have studied abroad, are fluent in many foreign languages, but cannot find a suitable job for their degrees and majors.
The unemployment rate in the 16-24 age group has been as high as 18,4%, which is likely to continue to increase. Nearly 11 million Chinese university students completed their studies this summer, the highest number of new graduates ever. And many of them may temporarily have to work part-time to support themselves, like Amanda.
The article analyzed that, for the Chinese government, high unemployment among young people also means social unrest. “Young people who have no jobs and no hope for the future may take to the streets to protest to vent their resentments, which those in power are most worried about because this could cause social unrest and shake the entire political system of the CCP in the worst case scenario. Therefore, the Chinese government is trying to create many new jobs in the short term.
However, these measures of the CCP cannot solve the crux of the problem. Many companies face tremendous cost pressure due to the continuous implementation of lockdown measures. In addition, the CCP’s intervention in the real estate and technology industries has significantly reduced many companies’ operation spaces. This is a fatal mistake because technology companies have primarily recruited college graduates over the past few years.
Finally, the article by Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote that many young Chinese people chose to study abroad with the country’s opening. A young social class enjoys the best education, is open-minded, and is fluent in many languages. Elites are always the hope of the country, but when they want to contribute, they cannot find a suitable job in this country.
At the same time, Japan’s Toyokeizai also focuses on the problematic situation of Chinese youth in finding employment. The article says that the unemployment rate among Chinese youth in April exceeded 18%, the highest unemployment rate in the history of the population between the ages of 16 and 24. Technology companies such as Tencent and Alibaba, once major job sites for graduates looking to get a job, are now sacking tens of thousands of workers.
Even those with jobs are anxious to “look around” as companies constantly announce new rounds of layoffs. The article quoted an employee of a technology company saying: “It’s too scary. These announcements were made suddenly, and some employees were asked to leave immediately after receiving the notice of dismissal.” For Tan Aimi, a recruiter of a company based in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, this unstable job market is not surprising.
The article concludes that job seekers are lowering their salary expectations, while some are feeling pressure from parents, who are frustrated and do not understand why their children cannot find a job. According to the head of the department at a well-known Beijing university specializing in career counseling, the competition for graduate schools has become “extremely fierce,” and everyone knows that COVID-19 has a massive impact on the job market.