China Labor Market Review | The Conference Board
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

China Labor Market Review

Business resumption has picked up pace again after a prolonged bottleneck period in April. The CICC production resumption index (measured as a function of coal consumption, freight logistics, and urban passenger traffic), a proxy for resumption of operational activity, improved quickly in March from its February low, then stalled in April, but has now picked up pace again in the first half of May. This is a positive sign, although it remains to be seen if this improvement can be sustained. These CICC data on operational activity should be used with caution, as alternative measures indicate that operating businesses are not anywhere close to pre-crisis productivity levels.

 

Job market impacts are much more severe than the survey-based unemployment readings suggest. The official urban unemployment rate shot up to 6.2 percent in February, but showed some recovery in March. In April, the rate edged upwards again to 6.0 percent, indicating persistent labor market pressures. Looking back on Q1, approximately 2.8 million more people were unemployed in March than in January, according to the official urban unemployment rate. But this number does not take into account idle workers and those who temporarily dropped out of the labor market in Q1. Those two groups combined account for over 100 million workers, or nearly a quarter of China’s urban workforce. Reviving these “stalled jobs”, while simultaneously creating jobs for new entrants to the urban labor market this year, are the key challenges. 

 

AUTHORS

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Anke Schrader

Senior Researcher
China Center for Economics and Business

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Siqi Zhou

Associate Economist
The Conference Board China Center for Economics and Business

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China Labor Market Review

May 29, 2020 | EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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