Oct 10, 2023
5 mins read

Why Youth Unemployment Is Soaring in China?

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Key Takeaways:

  • China's youth unemployment rate is at an all-time high of 21.3% 
  • Some factors contributing to the rising issue of youth unemployment in China include economic weakness, the education system, and employment challenges 
  • Chinese authorities have put in place different measures to help the youth overcome this critical concern 

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China, a global economic powerhouse, has recently grappled with a pressing challenge looming over its economic landscape - soaring youth unemployment. With a remarkable economic growth rate and a burgeoning middle class, it may seem counterintuitive that a country with such potential would need more job opportunities for its younger generation. However, as the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, China was no exception to the unprecedented challenges it presented. While measures to curb the virus's spread were necessary, the draconian lockdown measures implemented in China had a palpable impact on the nation's economy, which, until mid-2023, was yet to fully recover from the pandemic era, which in turn has harmed youth employment in China. This article delves into the burgeoning crisis of youth unemployment in China, shedding light on key factors contributing to the rising tide of unemployment among Chinese youth, as well as exploring the role of the government in addressing this critical concern. 


Current statistic

When comparing China's youth unemployment to other countries, it is crucial to acknowledge the issue's complexity. According to recent data, China's youth unemployment rate is approximately 21.3%, lower than Greece (30.5%) and South Africa (48.2%). However, it is higher than countries such as Germany (5.75%), South Korea (6.88%), Senegal (4.6%), Guinea Bissau (4.4%), Mali (4.3%), Thailand (4.3%), Tanzania (4.1%), Japan (4.1%), Cote d'Ivoire (4.1%), Benin (4.0%), Sierra Leone (4.0%), Madagascar (3.8%), Kazakhstan (3.7%), Cuba (3.4%), and Turkey (18.2%). These variations highlight the diverse socio-economic factors within each nation and the need for targeted strategies addressing youth unemployment in China.  

Below is a pie chart comparing the unemployment rate among the youths in China to the youths in South Africa and Greece. 

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Additionally, below is a pie chart showing the comparison of the unemployment rate among the youths in China to the youths in Germany, South Korea, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Thailand, Tanzania, Japan, Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Kazakhstan, Cuba, and Turkey. 

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Factors Contributing to Youth Unemployment 

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Youth unemployment is a significant issue affecting many countries globally, including China. With a burgeoning young population, China faces unique challenges in mitigating the unemployment crisis among its youth. Some of the factors contributing to the prevalent issue of youth unemployment in China include: 

  • Economic Weakness
    China, the world's second-most populous country, is currently experiencing a severe economic slowdown as the post-Covid rebound seems to have stalled in the wake of a drop in demand in the property sector (real estate) and a decline in income from exports. Because of the economic downturn, businesses are not hiring as many people, especially young people, because you have to train them. You do not want to incur costs, and you are still determining how long the business will be around, considering a time like now when most people do not want to spend in the current economy.
  • Education System
    Despite producing highly educated individuals, the educational approach must be deemed adequate in preparing students for the demands of the modern job market. The system has traditionally prioritized rote memorization and examination performance over essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. Consequently, students often need more practical knowledge and real-world experience employers seek, rendering them ill-equipped for the dynamic and evolving job market. Furthermore, the educational focus on prestigious universities and degree-centric evaluation has led to an oversupply of graduates in specific fields, creating fierce competition for a limited number of suitable jobs. This mismatch between the skills developed in education and those demanded by employers has thus contributed to the alarming youth unemployment rates in China.
  • Employment Challenges
    Several factors contribute to this phenomenon, starting with the sheer size of the population and the fierce competition for jobs in China. With a vast pool of young graduates entering the job market each year, there is a need for more employment opportunities to cater to this massive influx. Additionally, the emphasis on academic achievements and technical skills often leaves young individuals needing more practical experience and soft skills necessary for employment. Moreover, rapid industrialization and globalization have created a mismatch in the job market, as traditional industries decline and emerging sectors demand a different skill set. This mismatch further hampers the ability of youth to secure job opportunities, leading to unemployment becoming a critical issue in China.


Government Policies and Labor Market Regulations 

To tackle the issue of soaring unemployment among the youths in China, Chinese authorities have put in place different measures to help the youths overcome this problem. Some of the measures include:  

  • Bank Intervention
    In mid-August, the People's Bank of China (PBoC) intervened in the market by slashing its 1-year loan prime rate (LPR) by 10bps to a record low of 3.45%. In contrast, it surprised markets by holding steady the 5-year rate, a move it said was meant to support the sputtering economy, which in the end would allow individuals and businesses to get access to affordable loans, helping in job creation for youths in China.
  • Skill Development and Education
    To enhance the employability of young individuals, the Chinese government has focused on improving educational systems and vocational training programs. This includes education reform to align curricula with industry needs and encourage skill development relevant to the job market.
  • Internship and Training Programs
    The government has encouraged establishing internship and training programs, providing opportunities for young people to gain practical experience and enhance their skills. Subsidies and financial support may be provided to both employers and interns to facilitate these programs.


In conclusion, the significant rise in youth unemployment in China can be attributed to several factors contributing to the prevailing economic weakness, inadequacies within the education system. To effectively alleviate the youth unemployment crisis in China, it is imperative to prioritize economic growth, bridge the gap between education and industry needs, and create a diverse range of employment options for the country's aspiring youth. 

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