Nation's job market remains steady in 2023

By CHENG SI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-18

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China saw a steady job market in 2023, and a new way has been unveiled to calculate the unemployment rate of young people, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday.

Latest figures from the bureau show that the average surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas stood at around 5.2 percent in 2023, decreasing by 0.4 percentage point from the previous year.

Last year's urban unemployment rate, according to the bureau, marked a stepwise decrease by quarters — 5.4 percent in the first quarter, 5.2 percent in both the second and third quarters and 5 percent in the fourth quarter — while the number of newly hired employees grew continuously from January to November, reaching roughly 11.8 million, a year-on-year rise of 350,000.

However, unemployment remains higher among the nation's younger generation.

December's figures show that youths aged 16 to 24 and those aged between 25 and 29 face an unemployment rate of 14.9 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively, according to the bureau, while the nation's surveyed urban unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in that month.

The youth unemployment rate figures are based on an optimized calculation method, which can give a more precise and comprehensive picture of the younger generation's employment situation, Kang Yi, head of the bureau, said at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

Prior to Wednesday, the NBS had halted the release of youth unemployment figures by age group in August, citing the need to optimize the survey method to reflect the ever-changing situation.

Kang said the NBS has excluded college students when calculating the unemployment rates of people aged 16 to 24 and 25 to 29.

"College students account for more than 60 percent of urban youths aged 16 to 24, roughly 62 million in 2023, and they focus on studying rather than working.

"Excluding them from the unemployment rate calculation can deliver more precise figures on the youth employment situation, and this in turn can assist the government in drawing up more effective policies related to young jobseekers."

He added that the 25 to 29 age group better reflects the younger generations' job situation after their college graduation.

Kang said he was optimistic about the job market thanks to the recovering economy and vigorously growing new industries.

"Economic growth is the basis for employment stability and expansion. The economic increment in 2024 is estimated to exceed that in the previous year, which will be a solid foundation for employment growth," he said.

"Service industries such as catering, transport and retailing have showed good momentum of recovery from last year, and the growing new industries will also create more job opportunities."