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HomeCHINA NEWSAre more Chinese graduates embracing the ‘lying flat’ phenomenon?

Are more Chinese graduates embracing the ‘lying flat’ phenomenon?

Does ‘slow employment’ in China imply that more graduates are embracing the ‘lying flat’ phenomenon?In Shanghai, a recent survey suggests that over a third of recent college graduates who don’t have jobs should not be labeled as “unemployed.” Instead, they are described as being in a state of “slow employment.” This term, which signifies a lack of urgency in seeking employment after graduation, often with the intention of pursuing further education, has seen a significant increase in Shanghai over the past eight years. In 2015, when the term was first used, it stood at 15.9 percent, and it has now risen to 38 percent in 2023.

Across China, the bleak job prospects in a struggling economy have led to a decline in job offers, and the monthly unemployment rate for individuals aged 16-24 exceeded 21 percent. However, authorities have chosen not to disclose the July rate, citing the need for recalibration.

Shanghai, known for its top universities, accounts for approximately 2 percent of China’s 11.58 million college graduates this year. The worsening youth unemployment situation is linked to the country’s slow economic recovery after the pandemic, characterized by decreasing export orders, reduced foreign investment, diminished consumer demand, and local governments burdened with debt due to three years of China’s strict zero-Covid policy.

Among those opting for “slow employment” in Shanghai, 32 percent intended to pursue further studies, while 6 percent were simply postponing employment. Of all those surveyed, 57 percent had chosen to enter the job market directly in 2023, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The percentage of individuals delaying employment without concrete plans had increased fivefold compared to 2015, rising from 1.2 percent to 6 percent, as revealed by the survey.

Many families have the financial means to support their children, but prolonged dependency on such support can pose problems. Parents have limited pensions and resources, and supporting their children at home for an extended period may become financially challenging.

The Shanghai survey results stated that “after three years of coronavirus control measures and online classes, the new batch of fresh graduates lacks internship experience and interpersonal communication skills, which presents challenges for graduates.”

To address this concerning social issue, Beijing has introduced the terms “flexible employment” and “light employment,” both of which are controversial terms used to describe individuals engaged in freelance or part-time work instead of full-time jobs.

There are also individuals known as “full-time children” or “paid children,” who are unemployed adults living with their parents and providing services like housework. These individuals are not included in youth unemployment figures, as they are not actively seeking employment.

Meanwhile, as young people struggle to secure positions in the hard-hit private sectors, civil servant positions have become increasingly popular due to their perceived job security.

Nearly 2.6 million individuals have registered for the 2023 national public servants exam in November, the highest number in nearly a decade.

However, with only 37,100 positions available, some of the most sought-after positions will have nearly 6,000 applicants vying for them.


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