Wuhan faces brutal economic blow from the pandemic as China’s unemployment soars

Wuhan faces brutal economic blow from the pandemic as China’s unemployment soars

The city, based in the central China province of Hubei, spent two months in a lockdown that paralysed all activity when the novel coronavirus was first discovered. Although there is no official unemployment rate for Wuhan, its gross domestic product for the first quarter of the year fell by 40.5 percent.

On a national level, unemployment in March was reportedly 5.9 percent, equivalent to about 29 million people.

This marks a drop from the record 6.2 percent recorded in February.

Many analysts have questioned whether the rates reflect the true status with many migrant and rural workers not being registered.

In February, Zhang Bin, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences calculated that up to 80 million people could be jobless by March.

All industries of Wuhan’s economy have taken the hit of the pandemic, but no extensive post-epidemic studies have been conducted on businesses yet.

Kang Wei, a migrant worker in his thirties, landed a job with the local government in Wuhan last month after moving to the capital of the province to look for work.

“I thought it was under a government bureau and would last until the end of the year,” he said.

However, after the two-month lockdown, Mr Wei found himself having to find a job again.

After getting a job patrolling farms and villages to look for illegal structures, he lasted only a week before the job role was removed due to spending cuts.

READ MORE: Three leasing firms called out for not offering car insurance refunds

He says that even now, the hospitality and tourism sectors have not yet bounced back as many consumers decide to stay away from potentially crowded places.

“I can only earn about 300 yuan a day,” he said.

“The public still is fearful of the virus.”

Earlier this month, desperate restaurant owners demonstrated, demanding their rents be reduced. However, they were dispersed by local authorities.

A new wave cases this week raised the alarms in Wuhan, prompting the government to implement millions of tests among locals within 10 days.

Mr Feihu says property developers in Guanggu have made a final proposal of a two-month reduction to restaurant owners and he is still deciding whether to accept it.

This week more than 20 restaurants in the area shuttered permanently.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” Mr Feihu said.

Published at Mon, 18 May 2020 06:10:00 +0000