Youth unemployment in China has soared to a record high as the country’s economy struggles to recover from zero-Covid restrictions.
One in five of China’s young adults are now unemployed, official figures show. The jobless rate among 16 to 24-year-olds reached 20.4pc in April, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed, climbing from 19.6pc in March.
Unemployment among the young is nearly four times the national rate of 5.2pc.
It comes as China’s economy stutters in the aftermath of draconian zero-Covid restrictions. Officials have set a growth target of just 5pc this year, the lowest in decades.
With the economy struggling to generate enough jobs for young people, Beijing has been urging university leavers to do manual labour in an effort to bring down youth unemployment.
State news organisations have recently profiled graduates who claimed to have made vast amounts of money in low-skilled jobs.
However, the continued rise in youth unemployment shows few are following this route.
Experts fear the rate will keep climbing. Another 11.58 million students will graduate this summer, further intensifying the competition for skilled entry-level work.
The Chinese government recently ordered state-owned enterprises to employ at least as many graduates as last year in an effort to address the growing problems.
Beijing has also drawn up a plan to expand recruitment by encouraging businesses to hire.
Separate figures on Tuesday showed China’s economy continues to struggle. Industrial production was only 5.6pc higher than a year earlier in April, despite forecasts predicting a 10.9pc uplift.
Growth in retail sales was also disappointing at 18.4pc, rather than the 21pc expected by analysts.
China’s economy is suffering after three years of zero-Covid policies.
Susan Joho, an economist at Julius Baer, said the latest data suggested “the recovery has lost momentum” after a strong bounce back in the first three months of the year.
She said: “The latest economic activity confirms that the recovery has lost steam after the initial reopening rebound. We expect the recovery of the Chinese economy to continue but at a much slower pace than in the first quarter.
“However, with last year’s Covid-19 restrictions providing a low base, year-on-year growth will accelerate further.”