Despite the mainland's rapid economic growth, more and more people are feeling unsure about their job prospects, a survey has revealed. More than 71 per cent of 1,584 people polled by the China Youth Daily last week thought it was much harder to land a job today than 10 years ago. More than 50 per cent said they felt pessimistic about the job market in the next 10 years, the newspaper said. Another 55 per cent said that despite never having been unemployed, they were constantly worried they may not fare too well in the increasingly competitive job market. The employment situation for college students looks grim this year, according to officials from the Ministry of Education. Labour experts predicted there would be half a million more unemployed college students this year compared to last, the China Youth Daily said. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has predicted that this year the registered urban unemployment rate will hit 4.6 per cent, slightly down from last year's 4.7 per cent. But data from other sources indicates the unemployment problem is more serious than it looks. Government think-tanks and research bodies have admitted the real rate is about 7 per cent. The World Bank puts unemployment on the mainland at 10 per cent. But Rand, a US think-tank, maintains that China's jobless rate could be as high as 23 per cent if groups such as rural job seekers and laid-off urban workers are taken into account. The number of unemployed young people has been on the rise. The labour ministry's first-quarter statistics suggest that young people account for 18.1 per cent of the newly unemployed, compared with 5.8 per cent from retrenchments. Nationwide, young people aged between 15 and 29 accounted for 9 per cent of the jobless, the survey by the China Youth Daily said. The survey's respondents listed unemployment, the widening income gap and a weak social welfare system as their top concerns. More than 95 per cent of those surveyed said increasing social inequality driven by these three factors made them concerned about the future.