Employment rate in China 2007-2019

China is the world’s most populous country. Its rapid economic development over the past decades has profited greatly from its large labor market. While the overall conditions for Chinese labor force are improving, the size of labor market in China is shrinking. And since the aging population is increasing and few children were born in the country, the share of employed people in the population of China keeps decreasing; the unemployment rate was 65.2 percent in 2019.

Economic slowdown - impact on labor market

After decades of rapid development, the world’s second largest economy now seems to have obstacles to boosting its economy further. The growth rate of GDP reached new record low and the number of employed people decreased for the first time in the last decade in 2018. Under the influence of the global economic downturn and the US-China trade war, many Chinese enterprises engaged in international trade are having tough times, which leads to a recession in China’s labor market.

Chances for better employment situation

After numerous discussions, it’s still not clear if the United States and China would sign any trade deal in the next months. The long-lasting trade war has caused China great loss on its international trade sector, which has been driving China’s economic growth for decades. However, there is also a lot China could learn. First, the potential of domestic demands should be further developed and satisfied with high-quality products. Second, it’s good timing to eliminate backward industries with low value-added. And the high-tech and environment-friendly industries should be further promoted. In addition, China’s market can be more open to services, especially in the financial sector and IT services to attract more foreign investors. Highly skilled talents should be better valued in the labor market. Efficient vocational education and further education could also help change the structure of China’ labor market.

Share of employed people in the Chinese population from 2007 to 2019

Share of employed people
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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period

2007 to 2019

Age group

15 years and older

Supplementary notes

Figures represent a modeled ILO estimate.

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Statistics on "Employment in China"

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