News 18 january — 15:44

China slump squeezes workers, hammers consumer spending

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Yu Mingang had a good job helping Chinese manufacturers prepare to sell shares to the public until the cooling economy derailed those plans, Associated press reports.

As demand for auditing services sank, the 25-year-old accountant in the eastern city of Hangzhou was laid off in December. Yu tightened his belt: No more movies or eating out. He put off buying a computer.

“I pay rent out of my savings,” Yu said.

The downturn is squeezing urban workers and entrepreneurs the ruling Communist Party is counting on to help transform China from a low-wage factory into a prosperous consumer market.

Headline economic numbers still look healthy. Growth in 2019 is forecast at more than 6 percent, down only slightly from about 6.5 percent last year. But it is propped up by higher government spending, which masks sharp declines in other areas. Those are spooking the public and discouraging spending, which could make the downturn worse.

A tariff war with Washington over Beijing’s technology ambitions is adding to anxiety over job losses and tumbling sales of cars, real estate and consumer goods.

“I am worried about my job security and have cut spending on everything including clothes, vacations and changing smartphones,” said He Siying, who works for an investment consulting firm in Beijing.

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