China misses fourth-quarter GDP estimates, resumes posting youth unemployment data

Construction at China Vanke Co.’s Isle Maison development in Hefei, China, on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023.

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BEIJING — China missed fourth-quarter GDP estimates on Wednesday, while it resumed reporting the unemployment rate for young people.

The National Bureau of Statistics said that excluding people still in school, the unemployment rate for young people aged 16 to 24 was 14.9%, while the unemployment rate in cities in December was 5.1%.

The bureau had temporarily suspended the release of the younger age group’s unemployment rate in summer, citing the need to reassess calculation methods. That unemployment rate had previously climbed to records above 20%.

China also reported fourth-quarter GDP figures, which were slightly below expectations, bringing 2023 growth to 5.2%.

GDP for the last three months of 2023 rose by 5.2%, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday. That’s below the 5.3% forecast in a Reuters poll.

Retail sales grew by 7.4% in December from a year ago, missing expectations for 8% growth.

Industrial production rose by 6.8% in December from a year earlier, beating forecasts for 6.6% growth.

Fixed asset investment for 2023 rose by 3%, a touch above the predicted 2.9% increase.

Within fixed asset investment, real estate dropped by 9.6% in 2023. Investment in infrastructure rose by 5.9% while that in manufacturing grew by 6.5%.

Online retail sales of physical goods rose by 8.4%, accounting for nearly 28% of overall retail sales.

The statistics bureau also said retail sales in services surged by 20% in 2023 from a year ago.

Retail sales for December saw a 29% surge in jewelry and 26% increase in purchases of clothes and shoes.

Sales of daily necessities, medicine, cultural and office products, as well as construction-related materials fell in December.
China had abruptly ended its Covid-19 controls in December 2022 and people had rushed to buy medicine amid widespread illness that month.

The statistics bureau said China’s population shrunk by more than 2 million people to 1.41 billion in 2023 from the prior year. The population had declined by 850,000 people in 2022 from 2021.

“We must effectively enhance economic vitality, prevent and mitigate risks, improve social expectations, consolidate and boost the sound momentum of economic recovery and growth, in a bid to effectively upgrade the quality and appropriately expand the quantity of the national economy,” the bureau said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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