The young people of China are still struggling to find work

Candidates are preparing to get jobs on site at job fairs in Fuyang, China.

Sheldon Cooper | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

BEIJING – One year since the coronavirus pandemic, China’s young people are still struggling to find work.

The unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 was 13.1% from February, well above the national urban rate of 5.5%, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

The unemployment rate of 13.1% for young people is the same as during the first quarter of last year, the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The high figure implies ‘continuous challenge due to underemployment and pressure on the labor market’, said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance. He added that, due to a contraction in labor measures from monthly government and third-party surveys, businesses are not eager to fill vacancies as the momentum in the economic recovery slows.

Young people in particular are faced with a lot of competition for jobs.

This year, a record 9.09 million students are expected to enter the workforce, surpassing last year’s official record of 8.74 million.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the number of new urban jobs dropped to 13.52 million in 2019, from 13.61 million in 2018, according to official figures. When the world struggled to recover from the pandemic last year, only 11.86 million new urban jobs were created.

China aims to create 11 million new urban jobs this year and achieve a 5.5% unemployment rate.

In an annual review of the economy this month, Prime Minister Li Keqiang said there was “increasing” pressure to ensure people had jobs. The Chinese economy grew by 2.3% last year and the authorities set a conservative growth target of more than 6% for this year.

Unlike countries that distributed cash to citizens to stimulate spending, China has focused on supporting businesses – and their employees – with tax cuts and cheaper loans. Li told reporters on Thursday how the owner of a store hit by the pandemic was able to keep the company’s about 20 workers running for a living.

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