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China’s lottery sales, which tend to fall as the jobless rate rises, have dropped since August, pointing to a worsening employment situation than the official data shows, according to Soochow Securities Co. Ltd.

Lottery sales declined by almost 13% from a year earlier to 31.2 billion yuan ($4.9 billion) in September, figures from the Ministry of Finance released last week show. Sales were down 14% from the high point for this year in July. 

“Higher unemployment would have a negative impact on lottery sales," Soochow analyst Yao Pei wrote in a report Friday. “A rise in unemployment means worse income expectations for lower-income groups, who are the main buyers of lottery tickets."  

That contrasts with the official surveyed urban jobless rate, which improved to 4.9% in September from 5.1% in the previous two months, even as China’s economic growth slowed. 

The lottery sales plunge is most significant in Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang province and Guangdong province, which are the main regions that attract migrant inflows, according to Soochow Securities. This could mean that unemployment is more acute in these places, or that people have left there and gone to other places, the report said.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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