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China's youth unemployment boom and a return to the homeland

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Faced with the specter of unemployment, young people in China are returning en masse

Εκρηξη της ανεργΙας των &nu ων στην Κνα και επιστροφor στο π ατρικo

[REUTERS]

Faced with the specter of unemployment, young people in China are returning home in droves, a phenomenon that is hurting the economic outlook and changing demographics in the world's second-largest economy. Youth unemployment hit a record 21.3% in June, but the true number of unemployed 16-24-year-olds may be more than double what official figures suggest, economists say. Exhausted by the pressure to find a job, and if they do find one to keep it, often working grueling hours for meager pay, more and more young people in China are being paid by their parents (!) to stay at home. “Full-time sons and daughters,” take care of their parents and grandparents, do the shopping and housework, and retire or don't even enter the labor market.

21-year-old Litsky Lee is in this situation. She quit her job as a photographer and spends her days shopping for her family and taking care of her grandmother, who suffers from dementia in Luoyang City. Her parents pay her $835 a month, which is considered a basic middle-class salary in her area. “I can't handle the pressure,” says Lee, a high school graduate. “I don't want to compete with my peers. So I choose to “lying flat,” he adds, using a popular phrase that describes eschewing grueling hours and traditional family values ​​in favor of a simpler life. Youth unemployment adds to a host of headaches for the Chinese government — low domestic consumption, falling industrial output and a battered property market — and poses a challenge for policymakers as the country's post-pandemic recovery falters. . The problem may be much bigger than official figures suggest. Zhang Dandan, an associate professor at Peking University, recently warned that if the jobless rate included 16 million young people who live at home or rely on their parents and are therefore not looking for work, the actual unemployment rate could reach 46.5 % next March.

The traumatic experiences of the austerity measures against the pandemic caused young people to radically reconsider their life goals, say sociologists, trying to explain the phenomenon. “Mentally and psychologically, people in mainland China are still recovering from the pandemic and want to spend time with their loved ones,” says Fang Su, a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. But the trend is also a sign that young people are facing shrinking opportunities in an economy that has thrived for decades. After an initial burst of activity early this year, China's economic recovery has slowed and business confidence remains weak. The private sector – the backbone of the economy and the biggest source of employment – ​​has been hit by a sweeping regulatory crackdown since the end of 2020. In the long run, millions of unemployed risk losing Xi's bet to revive the country as a superpower, and find themselves on the fringes of society as a potential threat to the communist party. Without steady work, many Chinese are postponing marriage and having children, exacerbating the country's demographic problems. Some researchers warn of the emergence of a class of “neo-poor”, who live off their parents and could destabilize society, expressing their frustration with protests, which until now have been rare in the “Red Dragon”.

Source: www.kathimerini.com.cy

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