China: Migrant workers and fresh graduates among hardest hit groups as lockdowns bring economy to halt
"‘I’m Very Anxious’: China’s Lockdowns Leave Millions Out of Work" 6 May 2022
After over a month in lockdown, Zeng Jialin could finally return to the Shanghai auto parts factory where he had worked. He was about to be released from a quarantine facility, having recovered from Covid, and was desperate to make up for the many days of wages he had missed. [...]
As China battles its worst coronavirus outbreaks, its uncompromising determination to eliminate infections has left millions unable to work. Stringent lockdowns, hitting city after city, have forced factories and businesses to shut, sometimes for weeks, including in some of the country’s most important economic centers.
Two groups have been especially hard-hit: migrant workers — the roughly 280 million laborers who travel from rural areas to cities to work in sectors such as manufacturing and construction — and recent college graduates. Nearly 11 million college students, a record, are expected to graduate this year. [...]
But the official unemployment figures are widely considered an undercount. They do not capture many migrant workers, and they also only count people as unemployed if they are able to start working within two weeks. That would exclude people under extended lockdowns or the growing numbers of young people deferring job searches.
The government’s new support measures suggest that the problem is more serious than officials have let on, said Stephen Roach, the former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, now a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University. The government had also increased unemployment payments for migrant workers before the global financial crisis in 2008. [...]