China Won’t Publish Youth Unemployment Data Amid ‘Improvements’

By Alistair Baker-Brian, August 16, 2023

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China will temporarily suspend publishing data on youth unemployment as of August, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, as “improvements” are made to the way the data is collected. 

At a press conference delivered yesterday, August 15, Fu Linghui – a Director at the Bureau – stressed that the temporary suspension was largely due to debate around whether students looking for jobs before graduation should be included in the youth unemployment figures. He said the following: 

“In recent years, among young people in China’s urban areas, the number of students on campus has been continuously expanding. In 2022, there were over 96 million urban youth aged 16-24, including over 65 million students in school. 

“The main task of students is to learn. Regarding whether students who are looking for jobs before graduation should be included in the labor force statistics, there are different opinions from various strata of society; further research is needed. 

“For example, as the education level of the Chinese population improves, young people have more time to study in school. In labor force survey statistics, further research is needed to define the age range of young people.”

Fu added later on that data on youth unemployment – which includes 16-24 year olds – would resume after the “relevant statistical methods and systems are further improved.”

In June of this year, the rate of youth unemployment hit a record high of 21.3%, as reported by China Economic Network.

Some have speculated that suspending the figures has been somewhat conveniently timed. 

Nancy Qian – an economist at Northwestern University in Illinois, United States – stated that unemployment among China’s youth has been largely driven by a lack of high-skill and high-paying jobs, making it difficult for university graduates to find work matching their education level, as reported by Business Insider. 

A feature published in Sixth Tone on August 9, 2023 looked at the growing trend of ‘full-time kids,’ with parents hiring their own children – left jobless after graduation – to do tasks such as cleaning, running errands and looking after elderly relatives.

[Cover image via Weibo/@观察者网]

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