China’s recently reported record-breaking 20% youth unemployment rate has obscured an equally worrying trend among its younger generation: Even those employed are increasingly burned out and “quitting while remaining in the office.” The headline-grabbing news last week that China’s unemployment rate for those aged 16-24 hit a never-before-seen high for the country, at 19.9% — meaning one in five youth cannot find work — was an unwelcome addition to the country’s array of economic difficulties.
COVID outbreaks have continued to plague the economy, largely because President Xi Jinping has mandated that containment of the virus is paramount regardless of the damage it continues to do to consumption, factory activity, tourism and other drivers of growth. A severe property crisis and the government’s unwillingness to unleash large-scale stimulus measures have compounded matters. Nearly all leading analysts forecast China’s 2022 economic growth to be far below the government’s original target of 5%. Layoffs, particularly among tech companies, have been going on for months. Regulatory crackdowns, weak consumer demand and a faltering economy overall have fueled the trend. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Tencent Holdings
and Alibaba Group Holding
— huge employers of young tech talent — are both likely to lay off thousands of workers by the end of the year. Neither company responded to requests for comment. “But they [layoffs] are probably getting more attention now because they are gaining momentum due to growing economic woes related to China’s strict COVID control measures,” said Doug Young, director of Hong Kong-based Bamboo Works, which provides analysis on Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong and the U.S. “What’s more, many of China’s fresh grads that would have normally gone to these companies to work are no longer finding such employment, which is in fo …