BEIJING, China — Zhang, a recent psychology graduate, has been unable to find a job in her chosen field, market research, despite sending thousands of resumes to Chinese employers.
The months-long search took an emotional toll on the 23-year-old, who ironically had conducted a survey of job search anxiety as part of her university studies.
“After I graduated, I found the pressure was really huge,” she told AFP at a job fair in Beijing over the weekend, declining to give her full name. fear of repercussions.
“For every 10 resumes I send out, I get a response,” she said.
Zhang is one of millions of graduates entering the Chinese labor market at a time of soaring youth unemployment.
Recently, the figure has hit a monthly high, with 21.3% of people aged 16 to 24 out of work in June.
Authorities abruptly said on Tuesday they would stop publishing age-related employment data, sparking public skepticism and concern over youth unemployment in the world’s second-largest economy.
At job fairs in Beijing this week, attendees described a difficult landscape for inexperienced candidates hoping to land their first or second job.
Yang Yao, a 21-year-old unemployed man with a background in the media, was disappointed after browsing advertisements Thursday at a fair in central Beijing where employers were mainly looking for staff for low-paying sales and administrative positions .
He had left his previous job in eastern China’s Zhejiang province to be closer to his family in Beijing, and was now anxious about his prospects after a fruitless few weeks of searching.
“Every night I worry, and if I can’t find a job, what will I do for the cost of living? And I can’t sleep at night,” he told AFP.
China has released a series of indicators in recent months pointing to a slowdown in the country’s post-Covid economic recovery, with weak consumer demand making businesses reluctant to hire.
“Recent data on activity is generally weaker, suggesting the recovery has stalled,” Jing Liu, chief economist for Greater China at HSBC wrote in a note this week.
“That was reflected by labor market data,” she added.
Xie Wei, a 39-year-old recruitment manager at a telecommunications services company, told AFP that companies that had survived three years of disruption during China’s zero-Covid pandemic restrictions were now more selective. when hiring new employees.
Companies that have rebounded “are going to choose a direction, and that direction is first that the company has to survive,” he said.
He also said he felt young workers, particularly those born after the mid-1990s, “lack psychological pressure, so they might be lazier” – echoing the government’s position that young people should be prepared to endure hardship.
However, Li Xiangyang, a 26-year-old former social media manager looking for a new job, said “maybe in terms of job promotion we are somewhat lacking.”
“If you’re in a second- or third-tier city…there would be very few development opportunities in my area,” he told AFP.
“I feel like the politicians haven’t caught up.”
China has announced a series of measures in recent weeks to boost consumption, including large-scale festivals and sporting events, as well as increased spending on food and health services.
But economists said the government needed to do more to bolster consumer and employer confidence.
In one industry – insurance – jobs seem to be plentiful, but with no guaranteed income.
More than a third of stalls at a job fair in northern Beijing on Saturday were taken up by insurance companies hoping to hire new sales reps, with company staff scouring the grounds for promising recruits.
“For insurance reps, we can always expand our teams, so there’s no limit to the number of people we hire,” said Yang, an insurance salesperson in her 40s.
After waves of layoffs in other sectors like education, “relatively more talent is flowing into this market,” she added.
Recruiters at the fair on Saturday showed AFP bank statements proving that some teammates had earned more than one million yuan ($137,300) in six months, promising unlimited wealth from commission-based jobs.
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