China has chosen to halt the release of youth unemployment statistics, previously viewed as a key indicator of the nation’s economic slowdown. According to a government spokesperson, this decision reflects changes in China’s society and its second-largest economy.
In June, the jobless rate for individuals aged 16 to 24 residing in urban areas in China reached a record high of over 20%. Simultaneously, China’s central bank reduced borrowing costs on Tuesday in an effort to stimulate economic growth. Official data disclosed on the same day revealed that China’s overall unemployment rate had climbed to 5.3% in July.
While China has ceased the publication of youth joblessness figures, it has not specified a timeframe for this suspension. A representative from the National Bureau of Statistics explained that the method of calculating youth unemployment needed revision due to the continuous development and transformation of the economy and society. This sentiment was expressed by Fu Linghui during a news conference in Beijing.
Fu alluded to the impact of an increase in the student population between 16 and 24 years old on unemployment statistics. However, it’s worth noting that China does not count students as unemployed. The practice of publishing youth unemployment data began in 2018, although such data is not currently available for young people in rural areas.
This announcement about the suspension of youth unemployment data publication quickly became a trending topic on China’s social media platform, Weibo. Some users expressed skepticism, suggesting that ignoring the issue wouldn’t solve it. The changing nature of employment, including flexible, slow, and independent work, also contributed to these discussions.
This development comes amidst China’s decelerating post-pandemic economic recovery. In an unexpected move to boost growth, the People’s Bank of China cut key interest rates for the second time in three months. Concerns about China’s economy have also been fuelled by a sharp decline in exports and deflation, where prices fall.
Julian Evans-Pritchard from Capital Economics emphasised the risk of recession if policy support is not enhanced promptly. Additionally, China’s troubled property market is a major source of concern. Recently, the largest private real estate developer in China, Country Garden, warned of a potential loss of up to $7.6 billion for the first half of the year. The real estate sector has been rocked by new borrowing rules introduced in 2020, with Chinese property giant Evergrande’s default on its massive debts last year adding to the turmoil.
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