After being driven online by COVID-19 for three years, China’s job fairs are now making a comeback, but muted wages and fewer offerings in industries susceptible to dwindling external demand speak to an uneven and cautious economic recovery.
Last month, the government announced hundreds of similar gatherings around the nation, which is the most recent indication that China is reverting to its pre-COVID way of life and that youth unemployment, a significant source of concern for Beijing, may be declining from its peak of close to 20%.
Job fairs are one of the most effective ways for companies and workers to connect in a nation of 1.4 billion people. Attendees claimed that their long-awaited comeback is encouraging, yet some lacked enthusiasm.
Liu Liangliang, 24, who was searching for a work in a hotel or property management company at one of more than 40 fairs conducted in the capital in February, said, “I merely pray for a secure job, and do not have big wage expectations.” “There are numerous victims of the COVID outbreak. This year, there will be more job applicants competing for openings.”
There is a lot of concern about the job.
According to Zhaopin, one of China’s largest hiring businesses, a study of roughly 50,000 white-collar professionals released on Thursday revealed 47.3% of respondents were concerned they would lose their employment this year, up from 39.8% a year earlier.
Up from 48.4% in 2022, about 60% of respondents named the “uncertain economic situation” as the primary reason affecting their confidence.
According to the survey, job confidence was higher among those working in consumer-facing industries, which are recovering from a low base more quickly than industries like manufacturing, which is being negatively impacted by weakening external demand, or real estate, which has only recently begun to show flimsy signs of stabilization.
When compared to the previous year, the number of job openings at Beijing Xiahang Jianianhua Hotel, according to the human resources manager who only revealed his last name Zhang, was three times higher.
While orders from abroad are decreasing, Jin Chaofeng, whose company sells outdoor rattan furniture, said he has no intentions to increase his payroll.
People in my industry are prudently waiting and watching, he added, adding that he intends to reduce production in March by 20% to 30% from a year ago.
The service and manufacturing sectors will likely grow at quite different rates this year, according to Frederic Neumann, chief Asia economist at HSBC, but overall employment in China should increase.
“Hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues are currently scurrying to fill open positions. This is particularly advantageous for younger workers “added Neumann. “In the upcoming months, the youth unemployment rate should begin to decline.”
China’s economy expanded by just 3% last year, which was one of the poorest showings in nearly 50 years. Aiming for growth of approximately 5%, which would still be slower than the pre-pandemic pace, is what policymakers are anticipated to do.
That’s partially because the suffering brought on by the strict COVID rules continues.
Wei, a former cleaner looking for similar work, revealed at another job fair in the capital that she and her unemployed husband are battling with credit card debt.
Wei, who has a child in elementary school and declined to give her full name out of respect for her privacy, left her previous job last year after learning that her employer planned to reduce her pay from 3,500 yuan to 3,200 yuan ($465.34) per month, despite the fact that she was required to work late hours to perform COVID-related disinfection.
She said, “We owe the banks hundreds of thousands of yuan. We feel quite anxious.