1 in 5 Young Chinese Are Jobless, and Millions More Are About to Graduate

1 in 5 Young Chinese Are Jobless, and Millions More Are About to Graduate

Shu Xiang (21), a financial management major at a college in Chengdu, China, said she has received five responses to about 100 applications. Ms. Shu, a financial management student at a Chengdu college, said that she had received only five responses from about 100 applications. Graduation will be in a couple of weeks.

She said, "I'm not confident about finding work." She said that the only thing she can do to feel less stressed is to know she's not on her own. Most of her classmates are also facing similar issues.

Ms. Shu will be one of the nearly 12 million Chinese who are expected to join the job market next month, at a time when it is difficult. The government announced this week that 20,4 percent of 16-24 year olds looking for work were unemployed in April. This is the highest number since China began releasing the statistics in 2018.

The high youth unemployment rate has been a dark spot on China's economic landscape for many years. This is exacerbated by the strict health restrictions imposed in response to pandemics, which have limited travel, decimated smaller businesses, and damaged consumer trust. In December, the government announced that it was easing its policies after it faced rare public discontent from young professionals protesting the "zero Covid" rules in major Chinese cities. The youth unemployment rate is still high, despite the fact that the overall unemployment rate has been declining for two consecutive months.

The Chinese government introduced a series of policies to encourage youth employment. These include subsidies for small- and medium-sized businesses that hire graduates. State-owned companies have been instructed to increase the number of jobs for young people.

The Chinese economy has stabilized more slowly and unevenly in general than most expected. Beijing released other reports this week showing an increase in factory and retail activity in April. However, those numbers were unsettling to investors and economists who had expected better results, as the data was being used to compare April 2022 when millions of people in Shanghai were locked inside due to a lockdown. China's large tech companies are showing signs of recovery after a tough year. However, their financial performance has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Analysts said that one problem is the mismatch between what graduates want to do and what jobs are available.

According to Zhilian.com, a Chinese website for job search, the most popular jobs were in tourism, passenger and cargo transport, and retail. Retail is another sector that has many jobs available.

Fu Linghui said that the National Bureau of Statistics' spokesman Fu Linghui at a press conference held this week, "Industry like construction, transportation, and warehouses, which usually attract heavy interest from China’s vast population of migrants, have also improved."


Nie Riming is a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law. She said that many young people who have degrees in higher education are looking for jobs in education, technology and medicine.

Nie stated that these are the industries in China which have grown slowly in recent years. Many industries suffered not only from a lack of growth, but also devastating blows.

In the last few years, China has taken a hard line against its once vibrant education and technology industries. Hunderts of thousands of workers have lost their job. Companies and investors are in a state of shock. Companies have reduced hiring due to the tightened oversight, as they are worried about more government intervention.

The number of graduates from college has increased, despite the fact that the industries that are attracting educated youths have been shrinking.

According to the Chinese Ministry of Education 11.6 million college graduates are expected to graduate this June, an 820,000 increase over last year.

The Covid pandemic still affects young job-seekers in another way. Many students lived on campuses with strict restrictions to their movements, and spent a large part of their college years locked down. The students had less opportunities to get internships and gain the social skills that recruiters look for.


The Chinese economy will continue to grow in the months ahead, but the recovery won't be complete until consumers feel confident to buy big-ticket items again. This will in turn prompt more businesses to hire more staff.

Dong Yan works for an organization in Beijing that organizes regular job fairs. He said the number of companies requesting booths was still lower than it was before the pandemic.

Dong said that the economy was recovering. "But I feel that it is going down, because so many people have lost their jobs or been laid off."