(Bloomberg) -- China’s rising youth unemployment rate needs more scrutiny, a government official warned, as a weak labor market continues to weigh on growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

“Judging from the situation in the first quarter, including the situation in March, the youth unemployment rate has still increased slightly,” Sheng Laiyun, deputy director of the National Bureau of Statistics, said Tuesday without clarifying which time period he was referring to. 

“This requires a high degree of attention,” he added.

China previously released its youth jobless rate at a monthly press conference covering other closely watched data, including retail sales and industrial output. Earlier this year, the NBS switched to publishing that number directly to its website, with the latest figure for March due within days.

Unemployment among 16 to 24 year-olds hit a record high last summer, before Beijing paused publishing the rate. China launched a new youth jobless rate in January, with officials saying the updated method that excludes students reflected a more accurate picture of unemployment. 

That switch will make it difficult to directly compare first quarter data to the previous period.

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