Pitching resumes through job fairs in the capital Beijing for hours, Sun Yuexing, a bachelor who is about to graduate, has yet to receive any offers.
Sun Yuexing, 24, who is less than two months away from earning a degree in English from Beijing University of Foreign Studies, said she had lowered her salary expectations on her CV but to no avail. “It was sad to realize that I would be out of a job as soon as I graduated. The job market is so competitive,” she said.
According to data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics on May 16, the unemployment rate among 16- to 24-year-olds rose to a record 20.4% in April, significantly higher than a few years ago. level maintained throughout 2019.
The increase came as a surprise to many, as the overall urban unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% in April from 6.1% a year earlier. But many economists say the job market for China’s youth will continue to deteriorate as 11.6 million university students graduated this summer.
Young people at a job fair in Chongqing, China, in April. Photo: AFP
The central reason is that China is not creating enough high-paying, high-skill jobs for a growing pool of educated young people, economists say. Instead of taking low-paying jobs, these people decided to wait for better job opportunities, even if they were few and competition was fierce.
“The high youth unemployment rate in China is not a temporary problem, but a long-term structural problem. The skills that young people are trained in are not adequate for current job requirements,” said David. Wang, chief China economist at Swiss bank Credit Suisse, said.
High youth unemployment could weigh on wage growth and undermine China’s desire to build a more consumption-based economy. Unemployment can also undermine social stability, if many young people feel increasingly dissatisfied with life.
Some economists still believe this is just a short-term problem and that many young people will soon find work after the Chinese economy recovers more strongly. Young people are especially vulnerable to unemployment during a recession, as they are relatively inexperienced, according to observers. A lot of tough jobs during the pandemic are the areas that young people love, like travel and food. These areas are slowly recovering.
Arthur Kroeber, CEO of research firm Gavekal Dragonomics. believes that the normalization of the labor market is only “a matter of time”.
However, many other experts say the current youth unemployment rate reflects an imbalance in the Chinese economy that makes it difficult for young people to find the jobs they want, and this trend is not going away anytime soon.
China’s economy is becoming increasingly service-oriented, while many service jobs over the past decade have been simple jobs like delivery boys or restaurant servers that haven’t attracted students. research at TS Lombard in the UK.
China has increased its university enrollment rate over the past decade. Over the past three years, more than 28 million university graduates have entered the workforce, accounting for about two-thirds of new labor supply in urban areas.
A survey by online recruitment platform Zhaopin.com found that around 30% of this summer’s graduates want to work in the education, telecommunications and Internet sectors, despite the difficulties these sectors face in their careers. In recent years, employers have been hesitant to hire staff.
With so many graduates, employers can be demanding. Bachelor Fu Zihao said he had submitted applications to most schools that recruit physical education teachers in Beijing, but to no avail.
“I was rejected because I only had a bachelor’s degree. Today’s schools, even elementary schools, require physical education teachers to have a master’s degree,” said Fu, a graduate of Shenyang Sports University, adding that he will keep trying until he is hired. .
As Chinese families today enjoy better economic conditions, many young people are not under pressure to earn a living and can accept “eternal unemployment” longer than previous generations, according to Larry Hu, chief economist at Macquarie Group in Australia.
Many singles choose to continue their education after graduation rather than find a job. Statistics show that 4.7 million university students signed up this year to compete for 1.2 Master’s positions.
Young people who are slow to enter the workforce or are not looking for work will not be included in China’s official unemployment statistics. According to Nancy Qian, professor of economics at Northwestern University, in the United States, the unemployment rate in China would be higher if this group of people were included in the statistics.
During an online meeting with government officials earlier this month, Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang urged state-owned enterprises to hire more graduates this year. This is to help the country reach its target of creating 12 million new jobs in 2023.
Job fair in Chongqing city, China, in April. Photo: AFP
Chinese authorities have also persuaded educated young workers to lower their job expectations by taking jobs below their original criteria. Some recent graduates have already done so.
A student studying international finance in Beijing said he decided to start working at a retirement home in a mountain village in Guizhou province, earning 3,000 yuan a month (about US$427).
He believes that two years working in this mountainous region will help him score more points in the entrance exam or pave the way for him to become a local government official.
“Finding a job is not difficult, the hardest part is getting your dream job,” he said.
Thanh Tam (according to WSJ)