1 in 5 is unemployed

Xu Xiang, 21, started looking for a job in February and has had no luck so far. Ms. Xu, a financial management major at a university in Chengdu, China, said she had received five responses to about 100 applications. Graduating in a few weeks.

“I’m not sure if I’ll find a job,” she said. She said the only thing that made her feel less anxious was knowing she wasn’t alone—most of her classmates were dealing with similar issues.

Ms. Xu is one of nearly 12 million Chinese expected to enter the labor market at a difficult time next month. The cabinet reported this week that 20.4 percent of job seekers between the ages of 16 and 24 were unemployed in April. This is the highest level since China began releasing the statistic in 2018.

High youth unemployment has been a grim blot on China’s economy for years, exacerbated by severe pandemic health restrictions that have restricted travel, decimated small businesses and damaged consumer confidence. The government, which has faced rare public discontent as young professionals in major cities across China protested the “zero Covid” rules, abruptly announced in December that it would begin relaxing the policy. But youth unemployment remained high, even though the overall rate fell for two months in a row.

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