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In-Depth: Despite numerous job shortages, youth unemployment in China has reached an all-time high. With higher levels of education than previous generations, young people are

increasingly hesitant to work in factories.

For the past month, Rachel has been searching for employment in Shanghai, China. "I hope to earn 6,000 or 7,000 yuan [€777 or €907], just enough to cover rent and basic expenses, but I aspire to find a position that allows me to grow, perhaps in advertising or marketing," expressed the young woman. An engaging job is what many young individuals from China's middle class are seeking, even if it entails accepting a lower salary or practicing patience. Having graduated in the summer of 2022, amid successive lockdowns in China, Rachel (who has shared only her English first name), 28, underwent a few interviews before returning to her parents' home, waiting for better prospects. She humorously refers to herself as a "full-time child," a term now used to describe unemployed graduates who have opted to live with their parents and receive support, sometimes in exchange for assistance. This phenomenon is among several indicators of an economic slowdown.

Youth unemployment in 2023 has reached an unprecedented level. In June, it soared to a record high of 21.3%. Given the influx of recent graduates, the figures for July appeared even bleaker. Authorities have decided to halt the release of specific age group unemployment data, a decision that triggered a torrent of online criticism. On the microblogging platform Weibo, this topic garnered 140 million views within hours.

The reasons behind this situation are widely recognized. The nation has not fully recovered from its stringent zero-Covid policy implemented over three years, resulting in a challenging year. Exports are plummeting, real estate is grappling with an unprecedented crisis, and domestic consumption has been sluggish in its revival. Consequently, despite unfavorable comparisons, China is unlikely to achieve its 2023 growth target, initially set at "around 5%." Photo by Jakob Montrasio from Saarbrücken, Germany, Wikimedia commons.