As China’s economy picks up, new university grads are still looking for jobs

Graduates attend the commencement ceremony at Beihang University in Beijing, capital of China, June 29, 2020.

Ren Chao | Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

BEIJING — As China presses on with its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, new university graduates are still trying to catch up.

By official and third-party accounts, the class of 2020 — at a record high of 8.74 million students — is having a harder time finding jobs than last year’s graduates.

There’s been a clear decline in hiring by the consumer goods industry, manufacturing, software and information technology services as a result of Covid-19’s spread, according to a report on prospects for China’s new graduates. The report “University Alumni Insights: Chinese Graduate Career Development Prospects 2020” was released Thursday by LinkedIn China and Beijing-based think tank Center for China and Globalization (CCG).

On the other hand, the health care, distance learning and legal industries have been less affected by the pandemic, and the number of people they are recruiting has remained relatively stable, the report said.

In fact, the analysis found there is a shortage of talent in the transportation and logistics, media and education sectors.

Covid-19 first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, before spreading quickly within the country in January and February. Authorities temporarily shut down more than half the country in February.

The outbreak stalled domestically in March, but by that time, the coronavirus had spread rapidly overseas in a global pandemic. China’s economy contracted 6.8% in the first quarter. While officials are optimistic about the subsequent recovery, they remain cautious about uncertainty from the coronavirus’ continued spread abroad.

There will be more and more (study abroad) returnees… For them to return to China to get jobs, they face lots of challenges.

Miao Lu

vice president, Center for China and Globalization

“There are certainly many higher-education graduates who are still looking for jobs, and the class of 2021 will soon enter the job market,” Zhang Ying, director of the employment promotion department at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said Wednesday, according to a CNBC translation of her Mandarin-language remarks.

Zhang said the government will continue to add policy support, including expansion of hiring by state-owned enterprises. She noted the public sector has absorbed 2.8 million of the graduates.

Graduates attend the commencement ceremony at Beihang University in Beijing, capital of China, June 29, 2020.

Ren Chao | Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

Earlier this month, the National Bureau of Statistics said an unspecified unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds holding at least a college degree — primarily new graduates — was 4 percentage points higher in September than a year ago, despite falling slightly from August.

Overall unemployment for urban areas as measured by an official survey — which many economists doubt the accuracy of —showed the rate fell to 5.4% in September from 5.6% in August. Anecdotally, many workers have had their pay cut or deferred. The statistics bureau said late last month that many of those who lost their jobs during the coronavirus are not necessarily counted among the unemployed.

Chinese graduates returning from overseas

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