Youth unemployment in China reached a new record in May, and the headline data is disappointing

A woman lies on a table at a job fair on June 9, 2023 in Beijing, China.

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BEIJING — Youth unemployment in China rose to a record high in May, while headline data missed expectations, according to data released Thursday by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The unemployment rate for young people ages 16 to 24 rose to 20.8% in May, a record high and higher than the April high. The unemployment rate for people of all ages in the cities was 5.2% in May.

May retail sales rose 12.7% in May from a year ago, which is less than a forecast of 13.6% growth in a Reuters poll.

Industrial production rose 3.5% in May from a year ago, slower than the 3.6% expected by a Reuters poll.

Analysts expect a 4.4% increase in fixed asset investment for the first five months of the year compared to last year.

Fixed-asset investment for the first five months of the year rose 4% from a year ago, slower than the 4.4% expected by Reuters.

“The national economy has maintained the momentum of recovery,” the statistics office said in an English-language statement.

But the office warned of continuing challenges from the international environment and “increasing pressures” on “domestic structural adjustment,” without elaborating too much.

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