China's failure to reverse a sharp rise in youth unemployment is becoming a bigger headache for Beijing, with many economists saying the problem reflects a jobs mismatch that could defy government solutions for years.
Joblessness among young people aged 16 to 24 rose to a record of 20.4% in April, significantly higher than a few months ago and far above the prepandemic rate of 13% or lower in most of 2019.
The rise was all the more surprising given that urban unemployment overall fell to 5.2% in China as of April, compared with 6.1% a year earlier.
Rather than trade down for lower-wage jobs, many young people are opting to wait for more opportunities, even though such opportunities might not be available.
"China's high youth unemployment rate is not transitory but structural," said David Wang, chief China economist at Credit Suisse. "There is a mismatch in the skills the youth are trained to provide and the skills that existing jobs require."