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China’s jobless youths may pose political risk

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Unemployment rate among individuals aged 16 to 24 hits 20.8%

China’s surging youth unemployment rate could pose significant political challenges if not effectively addressed, warns a prominent economist who advises Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government, according to a report in The Japan Times. Liu Yuanchun, an economic advisor to Beijing, predicts that the issue of youth unemployment will persist and worsen in the short term, potentially leading to broader social and even political problems if mishandled. These concerns were outlined in a recent joint report by China Macroeconomy Forum, a think tank affiliated with Renmin University of China.

In the past year, Jinping faced a formidable test to his leadership during nationwide protests, primarily led by students, which erupted due to stringent ‘Covid Zero’ measures. Some demonstrators even demanded the resignation of the Chinese leader.

China’s unemployment rate among individuals aged 16 to 24 hit a record high of 20.8% in May 2023. The nation’s decelerating economy, coupled with a large influx of new graduates entering the job market, presents policymakers with a formidable challenge that lacks simple solutions. The report attributes China’s youth unemployment problem to a stagnant private sector still recovering from the effects of Covid-related restrictions. Yuanchun and his co-authors suggest that a stronger economic recovery and improvement in the labor market are crucial for alleviating the mounting pressure among unemployed young people.

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