The youth unemployment rate for 16-24 year-olds, excluding college students, was 14.7 per cent in April.

The Post takes a closer look.

Anxiety and blessings

Zhang Ni, 35, had never been out of work in her life, but she decided to take her time after resigning from her last job because it had such a detrimental effect on her physical and mental health.

Many “urban drifters” spend the working week staying in coffee shops. Photo: Shutterstock

She said the Beijing start-up company she worked for did not treat her equally and loaded her with excessive work.

After leaving the company last November, Zhang did not want her family to worry about her, so she commuted to a book cafe every weekday. She is still doing so six months later.

Zhang posted on her Xiaohongshu account @KouniConnie that it was an experience filled with both anxiety and blessings.

Despite worrying about her reduced income and the lack of achievement, she felt unable to begin a new job she did not like.

On the up side, drifting helped her rediscover the beauty of Beijing. She enjoyed having the time to appreciate the city she had lived in for years.

Wasted and abandoned

A 31-year-old man in Shenzhen known as Zen, told the mainland media outlet Shenran that he chose to hide his unemployment from his family and friends because “everywhere in this city is nei juan. I feel wasted and abandoned.”

Nei juan, is an on-trend Chinese term used to describe the endless and seemingly futile process of surviving in the workplace.

Zen’s favourite fake workplace is a coffee shop, where he can sit the whole day for a minimal cost and becomes immersed in new study materials he hopes will help him begin a new career.

Shelter and space

Another Beijing resident, Liu Jinyan, 35, became an urban drifter for the third time when he was fired last year.

Many caught in the jobless trap say drifting gives them time to think about the future. Photo: Shutterstock

He said coffee houses are the “best shelter for jobless, middle-aged people” as they offer him space to think about his future.

On mainland social media there is much discussion about the “35-year-old crisis”. Many companies reject job applicants over 35, so if they are fired around that age, it is harder for them to find new work.

On May 26, China’s so-called air con queen, Gree Electric Appliances chairwoman Dong Mingzhu, sparked controversy by saying the “35-year-old crisis” does not exist.

“If nobody recruits you again, you can start your own business,” she said.

However, many disagree and one said on Weibo: “We no longer live in an era in which you can confidently say, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’”