Despite the impact of Covid lockdowns in sections of the nation in March, China’s first-quarter GDP expanded faster than projected, according to figures provided by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.
GDP increased by 4.8 percent in the first quarter, above estimates of a 4.4 percent growth from the previous quarter. Fixed asset investment increased 9.3% year over year in the first quarter, above projections of 8.5 percent growth. Manufacturing investment increased by 15.6 percent year over year in the first quarter, while infrastructure investment increased by 8.5 percent. In March, industrial production increased by 5%, above expectations of 4.5 percent growth. However, retail sales in March were down 3.5 percent from a year ago, which was more than predicted. The analysts predicted a 1.6 percent drop. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the government has fought to manage its deadliest Covid epidemic, which began in March.
Unemployment Took a Rising Turn
According to official data dating back to 2018, the jobless rate in 31 major Chinese cities jumped from 5.4 percent in February to 6% in March, the most on record. “This suggests that the unemployment situation in major cities has worsened since the Covid Pandemic began in 2020,” said Zhiwei Zhang, head economist at Pinpoint Asset Management.
As Covid enters its third year, China is faced with the task of ensuring that a record number of graduates find work. The number of higher education graduates is predicted to increase by 1.67 million this year, bringing the total to 10.76 million. The unemployment rate for individuals aged 16 to 24 remained significantly higher in March, at 16 percent, the highest level since August 2020.
The national urban unemployment rate increased to 5.8 percent in March, up from 5.5 percent in February. The increase “reflects greater difficulties for businesses’ production and operations, as well as greater pressure on employment.” Fu Linghui, a spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics, said at a briefing Monday in Chinese that the increase “reflects greater difficulties for businesses’ production and operations, as well as greater pressure on employment.”