Chinese Youth Unemployment Continues to Climb, Despite Methodology ‘Fix’

March 23, 2024

In the latest sign of China’s ailing economy, the nation’s youth unemployment continued to climb in February.

The unemployment rate among 16-24-year-olds rose to 15.3% in February, up from 14.6% the month prior. The nation’s overall unemployment rate rose to 5.3%, up from 5.1% in January.

This month’s report is the third that contains data on youth unemployment after a six-month hiatus. After the figure rose for six straight months to a record high of 21.3% last June, Beijing stopped releasing the figure.

It resumed releasing data on youth unemployment in January, after implementing a new methodology that excludes full-time students. January’s report showed a youth unemployment rate of 14.9%.

Excluding students from unemployment data is uncommon throughout most of the world. Most developed economies, including the U.S. and the nations of the European Union, count full-time students among the rest of the unemployed, so long they are actively seeking employment. 

The methodology change came after China’s post-pandemic economic recovery faltered last year. Demand remains weak, both from overseas exporters and domestic consumers, which has slowed hiring. The youth unemployment problem has also been exacerbated by regulatory crackdowns in the technology and tutoring sectors, which typically hire young workers.

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