During the current economic recession, China has entered an era of high unemployment and unprecedented low income. Some scholars have pointed out that there are 200 million unemployed people in China and nearly 1 billion people earning less than 2,000 yuan per month. On June 27, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang proposed in a government work report to issue a directive to strengthen people’s psychology that “a large-scale return of poverty” will not happen. But in reality, facing a wave of unemployment, Chinese young people have begun to panic and exclaim that “there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”
Has China achieved a well-off society in a comprehensive way?
Li Kongyue, a professor at the School of Management of Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, pointed out in a speech, citing the results of a survey in 2021, up to 940 million people in China have a monthly income of less than 2,000 yuan, and 20% of China’s population is in poverty, equivalent to about 280 million people. In addition, the population has an available income per capita of 7,800 yuan per year, which is 600 yuan per month, more than 800 million people are heavily in debt, and more than 200 million people are unemployed.
According to Li Kongyue, 20% of low-income people in China have an annual income of 16,000 yuan, which is more than 1,200 yuan a month.” He said, “This group of 40% has a monthly income of less than 1,000 yuan. There are 600 million people in China whose monthly salary is less than 1,000 DNT, in fact there are 596 million people.”
Mr. Li added, “On average, 60% of the population’s income is less than 2,000 yuan, equivalent to about 960 million people. In fact, 940 million people.”
In the fall of 2022, the World Bank will use the 2017 PPP to calculate global poverty data, and the international poverty line will rise to $2.15 (approximately 14.4 yuan). This means that people who earn less than this amount each day will be considered extreme poverty.
On June 27, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang suggested in the government’s work report that, due to the impact of epidemics and natural disasters, the number of people in need of assistance has increased and asked the Ministry of Civil Affairs to strengthen supervision, expand assistance, promote jobs, prevent “things that affect the moral bottom line” and ensure that “large-scale re-poverty” does not occur.
In 2020, Li Keqiang mentioned that there are 600 million people in China with a monthly income of only 1,000 yuan.
Wan Haiyuan, vice president of the Institute of Income Distribution, Beijing Normal University, and Meng Fanqiang, a postdoctoral researcher, wrote in a report aimed at showing that the above data is completely consistent with reality. China is still a developing country held back by low-income groups, the proportion of low-income groups in China is beyond imagination.”
Chinese young people ‘cannot see the light’
China’s tech giants are pushing for layoffs as economic growth stagnates.
On July 1, the Wall Street Journal reported that current and former employees of Tencent and ByteDance revealed that the two companies are continuing to push for cost-cutting measures to reduce personnel costs, and a new wave of layoffs amounted to thousands.
Bloomberg reported that in February, Zheng Jin was fired by one of China’s largest real estate developers. Three months later, after applying to more than 400 companies but could not find a job, Ms. Zheng fell into a panic state.
She said, “I can’t see light at the end of the tunnel.” She interviewed for many positions but did not receive any offers.
She shared, “It feels that life has no hope. I do not know how much longer I can take it.”
According to official data released on June 15, the unemployment rate of 16-24-year-olds in China reached 18.4% in May, not only higher than the 13.8% rate in the same period last year; this is more than three times the national urban unemployment rate, higher than the 7.9% rate for the same group in the United States, and the highest unemployment rate on record since the government first released data in 2018.
There are growing concerns that unemployment in China will worsen and may surpass its peak in 2020 when the new coronavirus first broke out. A record 10.76 million college graduates will be in the workforce in 2022.
The unemployment rate is unlikely to peak, forecast to reach 6.5% in the next few months, which would be the highest level since the authorities started recording data in January 2016, said Jacqueline Rong, deputy head of China economics at BNP Paribas. She said that when graduates enter the workforce in the summer, the youth unemployment rate could rise to nearly 20%.
For many young people looking for work, participation in the “lying flat” movement is on the rise. “Lying flat” is a way for young Chinese to express their sense of hopelessness. The stress of competing for jobs with millions of people is too much for them.
David Yang, 23, a student in Shanghai, told Bloomberg: “I’m under a lot of pressure right now. I graduated from university with a major in finance last year, and so far, I have not had a job. He said: “I still believe I have a bright future, but suddenly you are banned from leaving the apartment, and the job is gone.”
After sending resumes to many companies, Mr. Yang said he sometimes feels frustrated and just wants to “lay still.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that the continued rise in the unemployment rate would affect the entire economy, causing discontent and even social unrest. That concern has been especially severe because Xi Jinping will break with the precedent set in recent years and try to win a third term at the 20th National Congress of the CCP in the fall.