Youth unemployment has risen steadily in China from below 10 per cent in the spring of 2018 to more than 21 per cent now – but how much more is unclear because officials said yesterday China’s National Bureau of Statistics had stopped publishing the data. The number of entry-level jobs created by the world’s second-largest economy is a key indicator of its health, which is flagging on other fronts too. New data from the Bank of China showed retail sales and industrial production failing to meet forecasts and overall unemployment up at 5.3 per cent. Shanghai and Shenzhen stocks were down and the Renminbi slid against the dollar. What gives? The $3 trillion property sector, for one thing. Once a reliable engine of Chinese growth, its forests of high-rises built on spec by developers have failed to attract enough occupants or deliver enough revenue to local governments since Covid. Country Garden, China’s biggest private developer, admitted yesterday it wanted to delay a payment due on a private bond, and a major “shadow bank” with substantial exposure to real estate said it had already missed payments on some of its investment products. China has lifted 500 million people out of poverty since the 1980s but that won’t count for much if youth unemployment goes on up, and the building trade shows little sign of helping.
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