A man walks his dog through Taikoo Li mall after many retail stores were closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on May 10 in Beijing
China has reported disappointing economic data for the month of April, underscoring the extensive damage Covid lockdowns have wreaked on the country.
The world's second largest economy reported shocking drops in retail sales and factory production, widely missing market expectations.
Retail sales plunged 11.1% in April from a year ago, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics on Monday. That was well below the 6.1% drop forecast in a Reuters survey of economists, and also much lower than the 3.5% decrease seen in March.
Industrial production fell 2.9% last month from a year earlier, reversing a 5% gain in March.
This marks the worst contraction in industrial production since February 2020, when China's economy came to a near standstill during the initial coronavirus outbreak. Unemployment also surged to the second highest level on record.
The urban jobless rate hit 6.1% in April, up from 5.8% in March — which was already at a 21-month high. The only time China's jobless rate was higher was in February 2020.
Young people have been finding it especially hard to find jobs, the data showed, with the unemployment rate for those between 16 to 24 years of age rising to 18.2% — the highest ever.
Rising unemployment is a warning sign for the ruling Communist Party given the risk of social and political instability. After all, zero-Covid at the cost of surging unemployment is a hard sell politically,” said Larry Hu, chief China economist for Macquarie Capital.
By Laura He, CNN Business, Published May 15, 2022