China jobs market remains ‘top priority’ as record number of graduates increase unemployment pressure
- China ‘will continue to make employment the top priority of economic and social development’, the State Council meeting said on Monday
- Earlier on Monday data showed the unemployment rate for those between the ages of 16-24 rose to 16.2 per cent last month from 15.4 per cent in June
China pledged to prioritise employment with its fiscal and monetary policies as the labour market remains under pressure, the country’s cabinet said on Monday.
The cabinet also urged China to push for close to full employment with higher quality jobs during the period.
China “will continue to make employment the top priority of economic and social development as well as macro policies,” strengthen the government’s responsibility while maintaining the market’s dominant role to achieve higher-quality employment, the meeting said.
The cabinet called for all departments to “strengthen cross-cyclical policy adjustment” to make sure the economy operates within a reasonable range.
That is a new catchphrase that economists say reflects a greater focus on longer-term goals rather than short-term economic performance.
Commodity prices remained high, and the international economic environment is complex, it said.
China’s economy rose 7.9 per cent year on year in the second quarter of 2021
Efforts should be devoted to developing labour-intensive industries as well as new industries and fresh business models to create more jobs, it said.
China will strengthen vocational skills training, the statement said, so as to avoid the problem of structural unemployment caused by a mismatch in skills.
In the meantime, China will work to eliminate employment discrimination and better protect the rights and interests of irregular workers, older employees and women.
The unemployment rate for those between the ages of 16-24 – which captures graduates from school and college – rose to 16.2 per cent last month from 15.4 per cent in June, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.
A record 9.09 million students will graduate this year, putting pressure on the labour market and the government to ensure there are enough jobs.
The youth jobless rate was more than three times the overall rate, which ticked higher to 5.1 per cent in July, and was the highest reading since the statistics bureau started releasing data for this age group regularly in February.
China aims to create more than 11 million urban jobs this year.
But “the overall employment situation remains stable” this year, he said, as the total jobless rate was lower than 5.7 per cent reported in the same month in 2020 and 5.3 per cent in 2019.
The data indicates persistent pressure on the job market, according to Bruce Pang from China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong.
“Going forward, the government will need to take actions as guided by the Politburo meeting, step up employment services to college graduates, make it easier for migrant workers to go out to work, and better protect the rights of workers employed by the gig economy,” he said.
Also adding to the pressure, an increasing number of Chinese students overseas are looking to return home for jobs.
The ratio of students planning to return to China this year is expected to hit 31 per cent, up 6 percentage points from 2020, according to a New Oriental’s annual report on Chinese students’ overseas study.
The returning students are younger and more educated, pointing to more determination and higher competence coming back home, said the Centre for China & Globalisation in a March study.