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Retail sales in China rise for the first time in 2020

People shop in a mall in Beijing on Aug 14, 2020.

Nicolas Asfouri | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING – Chinese consumers increased their spending in August, in sign of further economic recovery from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

Retail sales were up 0.5% in August from a year ago, the first positive report for the year so far, China̵

7;s National Statistics Bureau said Tuesday. In particular, sales of communications equipment increased by 25.1% compared to a year ago and those of automobiles increased by 11.8%.

Retail sales for the first eight months of the year were down 8.6 percent from a year ago, the office said. Online retail sales of physical goods grew 15.8% during that period, the data showed.

The unemployment rate measured by the official city survey was 5.6 percent, 0.1 percentage points lower than in July, the office said.

However, the pressure on the occupation remains relatively high, Fu Linghui, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics, said at a news conference Tuesday, according to a CNBC translation of his remarks in Mandarin.

Fu pointed to data showing China’s record 8.74 million college graduates still have a hard time finding work.

Instead of following a typical trend of moderation in August starting in July, an unspecified unemployment rate for young people aged 20-24 with at least a university degree – mostly recent graduates – was 5.4 percentage points higher in August than the same time last year, Fu said. This figure was also higher than the 3.3 percentage point year-over-year increase reported for July.

Industrial production grew 5.6% in August compared to a year ago.

Investments in fixed assets decreased by 0.3% in the first eight months of the year. It was not immediately clear what the August annual figure was.

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