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Monday, February 26, 2024

China’s Suspension of Youth Jobless Data Draws Public Ire

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The suspension of youth unemployment data publication by China’s statistics bureau has sparked widespread public disapproval, particularly on social media platforms, in a move that has stirred controversy. The decision, which was declared on Tuesday, came amid the weakening of factory. Retail sales data and has intensified concerns regarding employment opportunities for the younger generation in the nation. So, China’s Suspension of Youth Jobless Data Draws Public Ire.

Fu Linghui, the spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), justified the suspension by emphasizing the need for refining the methodology employed to measure unemployment among the youth. This demographic has witnessed record-high unemployment rates in recent times. Fu stated, “At present, the majority of graduating university students have already confirmed their employment destination. Their employment situation is generally stable.” He went on to highlight that the graduate employment rate is slightly better compared to the same period in the previous year.

The announcement follows a challenging summer job-hunting season for young Chinese graduates. Regulatory interventions over the past few years have left core sectors – including property, technology, and education, grappling with significant challenges. According to the latest figures from the NBS, the youth unemployment rate witnessed a concerning surge, reaching 21.3% in the month of June. Furthermore, as reported by the state-controlled China News Service, about 47% of graduates returned to their hometowns within six months of completing their studies in 2022, a significant increase from 43% in 2018.

Fu elaborated on the suspension, explaining that as the economy and society undergo consistent evolution. The statistical approaches need perpetual refinement. Specifically, the inclusion of current job-seeking students in unemployment data and defining the age bracket require more research. Historically, China’s youth unemployment data pertained to the 16–24 age group.

The decision has not gone unnoticed. Criticism erupted on Chinese social media, with linked posts receiving more than 10 million views on the well-liked microblogging platform Weiba. A widespread sentiment echoed amongst users: “If you close your eyes, then it doesn’t exist.” Another user drew an analogy with the proverbial act of “burying your head in the sand.” Furthermore, a Chinese professor boldly stated last month that the actual youth unemployment rate might have been nearly 50% in March. A claim later reiterated in an article for the financial magazine, Caixin. This article was subsequently censored.

However, the Chinese government has previously stopped publishing important economic figures. Earlier this year, the National Bureau of Statistics stopped publicizing monthly consumer confidence data. A metric that was introduced 33 years ago. Previous surveys revealed a sharp decline in consumer confidence during the 2022 two-month lockdown in Shanghai, the nation’s largest city.

In response to the grim employment scenario, Chinese policymakers have implemented several measures. Such as offering subsidies to incentivize hiring by private-sector companies and state-owned enterprises and encouraging educational institutions to facilitate job placements for their graduates.

This suspension, however, underscores the broader challenges the country faces in managing public sentiment and addressing significant economic concerns. Particularly in the wake of strict regulatory measures and the pandemic’s lingering effects on various sectors.

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