context: The Central Economic Work Conference placed weight on the ‘six protections’ and ‘six stabilities’. Potential degradation of people’s livelihoods due to domestic and global economic abnormalities was deemed the prime danger faced by state and Party.

NBS data show 10.76 million students will graduate from college in 2022, up 16,7000 y-o-y. However, surveyed unemployment rates for the 16-24 age cohort stood at 14.3 percentage points in Nov 2021, and surveyed unemployment for 20-24 year-old college degree holders is expected to be even higher, says NBS.

Youth unemployment is also confirmed by the research led by Li Yang 李扬 University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences faculty and National Institution for Finance and Development chairman. Moreover, Li found

  • the marginal return of entrepreneurship for job creation is decreasing; in 2021, on average every 10 new firms can create only five jobs, down four compared to 2015
  • labour market mismatch is deteriorating; heavy industries, extracurricular tutoring and real estate sales were three pivotal employment providers, but they now need far fewer employees

Subject to great uncertainty, college students have crowded out the public sector, seeking success in the civil servants entry exams. However, available jobs in the public sector are too few to make up mass layoffs in online industries and given small business closures, says Caixin. Systemic fiscal and monetary adjustments are necessary.

According to Qiushi, unemployment is at a manageable level because

  • the urban surveyed unemployment rate is below the alert level (5.5 percentage points) set in early 2021
  • 11.33 million new urban jobs were added between Jan and Oct 2021, hitting the annual target

Qiushi highlights three measures

  • maintain economic growth
  • fiscal and financial supports to SMEs, who are the main job providers in the market
  • skills training for college students, migrant workers and veterans