China's lottery ticket sales in August soared to their highest for any month so far this year, amid public concern about the economy following months of mostly gloomy data including youth unemployment.
Nationwide lottery ticket sales jumped 53.6% in August from a year earlier to 52.96 billion yuan ($7.25 billion), the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, citing data from the finance ministry.
From January to August, a total of 375.76 billion yuan of lottery tickets were sold nationwide, up 51.6% from a year earlier, the data showed.
The surging lottery ticket sales coincided with months of mostly soft economic data, with the unemployment rate of job seekers aged between 16 and 24 drawing particular attention from policymakers.
China's youth unemployment rate hit a record high of 21.3% in June, according to official data.
Some social media commentators have linked the sharp rise in lottery sales in recent months to young people's deepening economic worries.
"Young people are more likely to win 5 million yuan in the lottery than to earn 5 million from work," one wrote on the popular Chinese microblog Weibo.
The country's statistics bureau abruptly stopped publishing the youth unemployment statistic in August, saying it had been suspended as officials sought to "optimise" its data collection methodology, triggering a wave of social media criticism.
Feeling the pinch of rising housing costs and the slowing economy, jobless graduates have been forfeiting cities that have traditionally provided a stepping stone to middle-class wealth.
Earlier this year, China's social media was alit with videos of jobless university graduates visiting temples to seek the blessings of the gods.
"The worse the economy is, the more lottery tickets will be sold," wrote another commentator on Weibo.
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