Coronavirus News Asia

Young Chinese struggle to find jobs despite recovery


Biology student Ma Jingjing wandered the hall of a job fair in central China among other young Chinese hoping to find work in an economy crushed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ma, 26, is one of almost nine million people graduating and entering the job market this year at a time of great uncertainty, an issue that has the ruling Communist Party worried to the point that President Xi Jinping has made it a priority.

The world’s second-largest economy may have rebounded sharply from a historic virus-induced contraction, but its young graduate jobless rate in June was more than three times that for urban unemployment.

Ma was among hundreds of young faces streaming in and out of the job fair on a recent weekend in Zhengzhou, where employers in industries ranging from real estate to manufacturing were recruiting.

Like many others, the aspiring teacher is “at a loss” and wondering if she should settle for any job or hold off work for further education.

“I have applied to seven or eight private schools, but only one has called me back for an interview,” she told AFP at the fair.

“I’ve studied for so many years and don’t want my family to pay for further training,” she said. “I’m especially worried about my finances.”

Aware of the risk that mass unemployment can spark political unrest – jeopardizing the party’s pledge of prosperity in return for unquestioned political power – the government has been making efforts to boost graduate employment via state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

But poorer opportunities this year are pushing some into further studies, less ideal jobs or other options.

‘Extremely anxious’

Although China’s economy appeared to make a strong comeback in the second quarter – growing 3.2% year-on-year – analysts caution the rebound may be overestimated, with a gap re-emerging between national figures and higher-frequency data.



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