At least 205 million (real figures likely much higher) people are now out of work in China.

  • As many as 205 million Chinese workers cannot find jobs or are unable to return to their previous posts, according to one analyst
  • Debate over China’s unemployment reality amid coronavirus heats up, with holes picked in official government statistics

Yu Zhixiang received his redundancy notice in early-March, while he was on sick leave, weeks after the coronavirus outbreak forced Chinese economy to come to a standstill.

The 47-year-old had worked as a contract translator on Beijing’s Financial Street, home to many of China’s largest banks and the nation’s central bank. He was one of millions, maybe even tens of millions, of Chinese people who lost their jobs during the outbreak, but who were not immediately reflected in national unemployment data.

In the United States, data on the number of Americans filing their first claim for unemployment benefits each week offers a relatively up-to-date reading of the national jobless situation. But in China, jobless indicators are released on a monthly or even quarterly basis, and cover only part of the workforce.

The most widely cited figure, the surveyed urban unemployment rate issued by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), jumped to an

all-time high

of 6.2 per cent in January and February combined, up from 5.2 per cent in December. This roughly equated to an additional 5 million people thrown out of work.



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