China Faces Criticism for Halting Youth Unemployment Data


China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on Tuesday that it had suspended the publication of youth unemployment data, citing the need to improve the methodology in measuring the jobless rate among young people. The decision came shortly after the release of weaker-than-expected factory and retail sales data, which showed that China’s economic recovery was losing momentum.

The NBS said that the suspension was due to the changing economic and social conditions, and the need to study whether students looking for jobs before graduation should be counted in the labor statistics. The NBS did not specify when the data would resume, and did not provide the youth unemployment rate for July, which was expected to rise as more graduates entered the job market.

China Faces Criticism for Halting Youth Unemployment Data
China Faces Criticism for Halting Youth Unemployment Data

The NBS’s move sparked a rare backlash on social media, where many users expressed their frustration and skepticism about the official explanation. Some accused the NBS of hiding the true extent of youth unemployment, which had reached a record high of 21.3% in June. Others mocked the NBS for closing its eyes to the problem, or compared it to burying its head in the sand.

China’s youth face tough job-hunting season amid economic slowdown

China’s youth unemployment rate has been high for more than a year, as the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath disrupted the labor market and reduced the demand for workers. The situation was worsened by the regulatory crackdowns on several industries, such as property, tech, and education, which had been traditional sources of graduate employment.

According to a survey by, a leading online recruitment platform, the number of job vacancies per applicant in China fell to 1.06 in July, down from 1.16 in June and 1.31 in May. The survey also found that the average monthly salary offered to fresh graduates dropped by 6.5% year-on-year to 5,688 yuan ($879) in July.

Many young Chinese are facing difficulties in finding stable and well-paid jobs, and some have resorted to taking temporary or low-skilled positions. Some have also returned to their hometowns or rural areas, where living costs are lower but opportunities are scarce. A report by China News Service last week said that 47% of graduates returned home within six months of graduation in 2022, up from 43% in 2018.

China’s government vows to support youth employment and entrepreneurship

The Chinese government has acknowledged the challenges faced by young people in finding jobs, and has vowed to take measures to support youth employment and entrepreneurship. In July, President Xi Jinping said that ensuring employment for college graduates was a top priority for the government, and urged local authorities to create more jobs and provide more subsidies and services for job seekers.

The government has also launched various programs and policies to encourage young people to start their own businesses, especially in rural areas and emerging sectors. For example, the Ministry of Education has set up a fund of 10 billion yuan ($1.55 billion) to support college students who want to start businesses in rural areas. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has also issued guidelines to promote youth entrepreneurship in digital economy fields such as e-commerce, online education, and cloud computing.

However, some experts have warned that these measures may not be enough to solve the structural problems of China’s labor market, such as the mismatch between supply and demand, the lack of social security and protection for workers, and the discrimination against young women and migrant workers. They have also called for more transparency and accountability in the collection and publication of unemployment data, which is crucial for informing policy decisions and public opinion.


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