China’s economy grew slower than expected in the second quarter as youth unemployment hit a record high.
Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 0.8 percent during April-June compared with the previous quarter, official data showed on Monday, amid lacklustre demand at home and overseas.
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While GDP grew by 6.3 percent year-on-year, the figure provides a flattering picture of the economy as it comes off of a low base of comparison with 2022, when Beijing’s “zero COVID” policies brought economic activity to a standstill.
Retail sales in June climbed 3.1 percent year-on-year, while industrial production output rose by 4.4 percent.
Economists had widely expected China’s overall economy to grow by more than 7 percent.
Still, China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the results pointed to the “good momentum” of the economy’s post-pandemic recovery.
“By quarter, the GDP grew by 4.5 percent year on year in the first quarter and 6.3 percent in the second quarter,” NBS spokesman Fu Linghui said.
“Market demand gradually recovered, production supply continued to increase, employment and price were generally stable, and residents’ income grew steadily.”
In a further sign of China’s patchy recovery, joblessness among Chinese youth rose to a record 21.3 percent in June, up from 20.8 percent in May, NBS data showed.
Beijing has set its growth target for 2023 at about 5 percent, which is conservative relative to the growth trend of recent decades.
China’s economy officially grew by 3 percent in 2022, one of its weakest showings in decades, as the country’s strict “zero COVID” curbs shuttered businesses and kept consumers at home.