China Job Market for Graduates Shows Stress on Slowdown

China’s Graduate Job Market Shows Signs of Stress on Slowdown
Job seekers attend an employment fair in Shanghai, China. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg News

China’s job market for university graduates is showing signs of stress as the nation’s deepest economic slowdown since the global financial crisis coincides with a record 6.8 million students completing their studies.

“The job market for graduates is the worst since 2009,” said Jennifer Feng, chief human resources expert at 51job Inc., a Shanghai-based online recruiter. In Beijing, Tang Wen, a spokesman at, a Chinese subsidiary of Monster Worldwide Inc., said conditions “may be slightly worse compared with 2011, but not too much.”

The ruling Communist Party may be concerned that any lack of jobs risks fueling discontent in the run-up to a once-in-a-decade leadership change, where President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao hand power to their successors. Wen last week warned of a severe outlook for the labor market and urged local governments to do more to create work for groups such as graduates and migrant workers.

“Graduate unemployment matters to the government because of the concern about the risk of social unrest,” said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, an adjunct professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Graduates are the ones who are well educated and know how to mobilize the public to protest.”

China will have 6.8 million new graduates in 2012, compared with 6.6 million in 2011 and 6.3 million in 2010, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security data show. Students finish their studies each summer. The state-run Xinhua News Agency said June 25 that this year’s total is a record.

Recruitment Events

Multinational corporations may be hiring 15 percent less graduates than last year and 30 percent fewer than in 2010, estimated Feng, of 51job Inc., which she says hires for companies including Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Standard Chartered Plc.

Companies have reduced recruiting events, with online and engineering companies and businesses making electronic products cutting hiring, she said, estimating that 20 percent to 30 percent of graduates may not have jobs. In March, Wen told the National People’s Congress that about 78 percent of graduates were employed in 2011.

At Randstad Holding NV, the world’s second-largest staffing provider, a marketing director in China said that unemployment may partly reflect the attitudes of students born in the 1990s of wealthy families.

“Instead of accepting whatever offers they receive, some graduates are jobless because they tend to reject offers from companies which are not their top priority,” said Shanghai-based Sun Haining. “They would rather be jobless.”

Manufacturing Jobs

While preliminary manufacturing industry data for July released by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed employment contracting, the labor market is proving more resilient than during the financial crisis, when millions of migrant workers lost their jobs as exporters closed.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security this week described employment as “stable and normal” with a record 6.94 million urban jobs created in the first half. While some businesses made “temporary job cuts,” there were no large layoffs of migrant workers, spokesman Yin Chengji said at a briefing, a transcript shows.

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