Joblessness in China reached the highest level since early part of pandemic

by IANS |

London, April 18 (IANS) China's consumer spending fell and unemployment rose last month as Covid lockdowns confined millions of people to their homes, official figures show, BBC reported.

Joblessness reached the highest level since the early part of the pandemic.

However, overall the country's economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the first three months of this year.

A surge in infections has triggered lockdowns in several major cities -- including the financial, manufacturing and shipping hub of Shanghai.

Retail sales fell by 3.5 per cent in March compared to a year earlier, China's National Bureau of Statistics said. That was the first decline since July 2020, BBC reported.

For the same period unemployment rose to 5.8 per cent, the highest level since May 2020.

The figures highlight the increased risk of a sharp slowdown in the coming months as major lockdowns and the war in Ukraine take their toll on the world's second largest economy.

As a whole, China's economy grew at a better-than-expected rate in the first three months of the year.

Gross domestic product (GDP), a key economic indicator, expanded by 4.8 per cent compared to a year earlier, beating analysts' forecasts.

Tommy Xie, head of Greater China research at OCBC Bank, said that the lockdowns, which began in the second half of March, were so far having a "limited" impact but he expects the restrictions to be a significant drag on economic growth this month.

"(China) is likely to feel the full-blown impact from the lockdown," Xie told the BBC. "The impact in April is likely to deepen given the longer-than-expected lockdowns in Shanghai and spillover to other parts of China."

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