China’s Labor Market After COVID-19

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, Beijing abandoned its 2020 GDP growth target in favor of a targeted surveyed unemployment rate of around 6%. However, data measuring employment and unemployment levels in China are notoriously poor, primarily by covering larger firms to a far greater extent than migrant workers and sole proprietorships.  Actual unemployment levels after the COVID-19 outbreak are difficult to determine, but based on national-level transportation data and regional surveys, unemployment rates most likely exceed 10% at present, and underemployment and falling household incomes remain separate labor market challenges. This note aims to reduce uncertainty surrounding China’s current labor market conditions, while discussing the consequences for the recovery should job growth remain slow.

Posted June 8, 2020
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