Current Weather
The Spy FM

No One Trusts China’s Unemployment Rate

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
October 5, 2012

Ask an economist like Eswar Prasad, who used to be the China guy at the Intentional Monetary Found, “So, do you know, what’s the unemployment rate in China?”

And he’ll answer, “We don’t.”

The official unemployment rate, put out by the government, Prasad says, is 6.5 percent. “But that number has no credibility at all.” He’s not the only dubious one.

“The unemployment rate in China is one of the most useless and ridiculous statistics out there,” says macroeconomic researcher Arthur Kroeber, with Dragonomics. “No one pays any attention to it, because everyone knows it’s a complete fiction.”

It’s not like China isn’t trying. It has a national statistics office that works very hard. But the country is so big, and changing so quickly, that it is actually really hard to keep track of what is going on.

Kroeber suggests proxies: how many shipping crates, how many tons of coal being shipped, amount of electricity production, floor space being built at any given time. “Those numbers,” he says, “are harder to fudge.”

Everyone in the world wants to do business in China. And China itself wants to know more about how its own economy is changing. But it takes decades to develop sophisticated statistical models that can give you trustworthy figures.

Stats that apply to an export-only oriented economy aren’t good enough to capture the complexity of a place like China. So, the country’s still working at figuring out how to count itself.

In the meantime, Western firms have jumped in and started in on their calculations, using methods perfected in the United States. But anytime you try to sum up an incredibly complex economy with one number — you’re going to have some controversy. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

9AM to 10PM Sound Opinions

Sound Opinions

Take two nationally respected rock critics, the latest music news, personal commentary, and exclusive interviews and performances, add a huge pile of records old and new, and the result is Sound Opinions-the world's only rock and roll talk show.

Listen Live Now!

10AM to 12PM The Toaster Brunch

The Toaster Brunch

The Toaster Brunch is our Sunday morning Reggae show, hosted by E-Roy. The Toaster Brunch has an active following of scooter clubs and rastas from around the world. E-Roy is also a high school principal.

View the program guide!

12PM to 1PM This American Life

This American Life

Take in a slice of Americana with critically acclaimed host Ira Glass on "This American Life." Each week he picks a theme, then gives his writers and performers the freedom to weave real stories from real people around that theme in a manner they find most engaging.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center