China's jobless rate for 16- to 24-year-olds stood at 18.7% in August, stubbornly close to July's record-high 19.9%.
The slight improvement came as the Chinese government unrolls a variety of stimulus measures -- while also continuing to undermine the economy with draconian zero-Covid policies that are as destructive as they are quixotic.
With a record 10.8 million Chinese set to graduate from college by the end of the year, competition for positions is only getting fiercer. One unemployed 2021 graduate was recently alarmed to discover some job postings are now open only to 2022 and 2023 grads.
Of course, recent college grads aren't the only ones looking for openings: Layoff victims are in the mix too.
Earlier this month, the Chinese government committed to a host of initiatives meant to boost employment prospects:
"China’s cabinet...said it would scale up support for start-ups to help create jobs, ordered banks to extend special loans to key internet companies and promised subsidies for college students yet to find work two years after graduation," reports the South China Morning Post.
Those measures face stiff headwinds: While job applications soared a staggering 135%, job advertisements in the second quarter plummeted by 19%, compared to 2021.
Meanwhile, a broader sort of stagnation is setting in among Chinese youth. It's encapsulated by a recently-popularized phrase in China: "tang ping," which means "lying flat." Similar to the American notion of "quiet quitting," tang ping represents a lifestyle that embraces low expectations for professional and financial success.
The stagnation also seems to be affecting the institution of marriage. Marriages fell to a record low of 7.6 million last year, about half the record mark set in 2013. As we explained recently, that trend is weighing mightily on the housing market, feeding a vicious circle of economic and social malaise.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, a 24-year old graduate of a top Shanghai university summed up the bleak situation confronting the young people of the world's most populous country: "We're in a pessimistic and helpless mood."