According to a Monday report by the National Bureau of Statistics, the jobless rate in the 16-24 age group stood at 13.1% as of February, far above the national urban unemployment rate of 5.5%.
The 13.1% unemployment rate is the same as it was during the first quarter of 2020, the height of the COVID-19 outbreak within China.
This signals “continuous challenge from underemployment and pressure on the job market,” said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance.
Companies are unwilling to fill vacancies as momentum in the economic recovery slows, Pang added citing a contraction in labor measures from monthly government and third-party polls.
Young people are having a hard time finding employment in this competitive job market as a record 9.09 million students will probably enter the workforce this year, surpassing 2020’s record of 8.74 million, official figures show.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the number of new urban jobs had decreased to 13.52 million in 2019, down from 13.61 million a year before, according to official figures.
In 2020, as the world struggled to recover from the coronavirus crisis, only 11.86 million new urban jobs were created.
In an annual review of the economy this month, Premier Li Keqiang said there is “mounting” pressure on the government to try to ensure people have jobs.
China plans to create 11 million new urban jobs this year and bring the unemployment rate down to 5.5%.
The country’s economy had a growth rate of 2.3% last year and authorities have set a conservative growth target of over 6% for 2021.
The official data released Monday show China’s economic activity improved during the first two months of the year compared with a year ago, but they also showed an uneven recovery with great industrial output fueled by exports but lagging consumer spending.
“Domestically, the unbalanced recovery is still notable and the foundation for the economic recovery is not solid yet,” Liu Aihua, a spokeswoman for China’s statistics bureau, said in a statement.
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