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With high unemployment, young Chinese get creative

Zhou Wei quit his job at an international PR firm this year to start his own men's apparel business, One Two FREE, on the popular e-commerce site Taobao.

Steve Chiotakis: We're off to China, where it may surprise you that there's a jobless crisis too. Estimates are China's unemployment rate is around 20 percent.

From Shanghai, Marketplace's Rob Schmitz
reports one problem is, many college grads aren't qualified.


Rob Schmitz: Six million Chinese students just graduated from college this past spring. Nearly a fifth of them haven't found jobs yet. And according to Shaun Rein, author of the forthcoming book 'The End of Cheap China,' the ones who have found jobs aren't happy.

Shaun Rein: Young university graduates are so optimistic about their careers and I think they overvalue their own skillset, so they're never happy with their current jobs. They're demanding higher salaries and think they're worth a lot more.

They're a lot like 23-year-old Zhou Wei. He got a job at an international PR firm right out of college.

Zhou Wei: I was always at the office -- until 11 at night some days. And my salary was too low.

He quit, and now he works from home. He rifles through a stack of t-shirts at his Shanghai apartment. He sells these on the e-commerce site Taobao; a Chinese version of eBay.

Shaun Rein says many young Chinese, unimpressed with their options, are starting their own businesses -- many of them on China's growing number of e-commerce sites.

Zhou Wei's only sold seven t-shirts so far, and is still living off the savings from his first job.

He's technically unemployed, but he likes the independence.

This trend is giving more young Chinese entrepreneurial experience, but at least in the short run, it's not solving the country's unemployment problem.

In Shanghai, I'm Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

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