This photo taken on July 6, 2017 shows workers making swimwear at a factory in Jinjiang, in China's Fujian province. / AFP PHOTO / STR / China OUT
Workers at a factory in Jinjiang, in China's Fujian province. Despite low unemployment, wage rises have stalled. AFP

Demand for workers in China, but wages stagnate

China’s labour market remains tight and unemployment low.

And yet – just like in the United States, Europe and elsewhere – wages growth is not reflecting that strength.

Official and private gauges show demand for hiring remained healthy in the second quarter, with even the weakest regions and sectors recovering. Yet white-collar pay edged down from the first quarter and pay increases for the nation’s 281 million migrant workers also narrowed.

While conditions like those may be good for companies’ payroll costs, they also give less spending power to consumers who play an increasingly crucial role in generating economic growth. Technology is subject to the most demand for talent and professional services pay the best – positive signs for industries that the government is relying on to rebalance the economy away from smokestack sectors.

The unlikely combination of low unemployment and stagnating pay is not unique to China. Wage gains in the US were below forecasts in June, even with the jobless rate close to the lowest since 2001. Unions in the euro zone’s largest nations blame lacklustre pay gains on dampened expectations among workers since the region’s financial crises.

There were 1.11 vacancies per applicant at job centres in 95 cities across China last quarter, ministry of human resources and social securities data show, down slightly from 1.13 in the previous quarter. Labour demand in the commercial and leasing sector, which includes a wide range of industries, soared while financial sector demand declined. The ratio edged down in the wealthier eastern region, while demand intensified in western regions.

A similar gauge by the Beijing-based recruitment site and Renmin University’s China Institute for Employment Research rose to 2.26 in the second quarter from 1.91.

Demand for the so-called old economy may have recovered in the past quarter. Zhaopin data show labour demand in energy, mining and excavation – some of the weakest sectors for hiring – almost doubled from the first quarter while still remaining below 1. There was some recovery in the rustbelt north-east as the ratio edged up to 1.33.

Internet and e-commerce talent remains the most sought after, with 9.06 positions chasing each applicant, followed by transportation and insurance. That is consistent with the economy depending more on technology and logistics, which drove second-quarter economic growth.

Beijing was the most competitive big city for high-end jobs, according to the number of resumes received for each job via Zhaopin. Shenzhen, Shanghai and Chengdu followed.

Factories have resumed shedding workers after a pause in March, a sub-index of the official manufacturing purchasing managers index shows. Both the official index and a sub-gauge of a private PMI stayed below 50, the line separating improving and deteriorating conditions.

While the official non-manufacturing PMI indicates contraction in services and construction jobs, a private indicator from Caixin Media and Markit Economics signals an expansion.

In the so-called new economy – from law to software and pharmaceutical labs –  hiring continued to expand in June, according to a labour input sub-gauge of the New Economy Index produced by Big Data Business in Chengdu.

While it is easier to find jobs, some pay gains are levelling off. For white-collar workers wages were lower compared with the first quarter, according to Zhaopin, while the pace of gains for new economy professionals stalled, according to Big Data's indicator.

Zhaopin data also show white-collar pay cheques in 37 major cities dropped to a monthly average of 7,376 yuan (Dh4,040), the first quarter-over-quarter decline on record. Wages at the smallest companies fell 31 per cent, which means "start-ups using high salaries to lure talent is a memory", Zhaopin said in a recent report.

Professional services such as finance, accounting, law and consulting were the highest-paying sector, with an average monthly salary of 10,165 yuan, followed by firms in funds, securities, and investment at 9,475 yuan.

Such stagnation is not limited to professionals. Wage growth for migrant workers from rural areas slowed to 6.3 per cent, according to the national bureau of statistics, versus more than 20 per cent in 2011.



Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Sui Dhaaga: Made in India

Director: Sharat Katariya

Starring: Varun Dhawan, Anushka Sharma, Raghubir Yadav


'Lost in Space'

Creators: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Irwin Allen

Stars: Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Maxwell Jenkins

Rating: 4/5

Company profile

Name: Khodar
Based: Cairo and Alexandria, in Egypt
Founders: Ayman Hamza, Yasser Eidrous and Amr El Sheikh
Sector: agriculture technology
Funding: $500,000
Investors: Saudi Arabia’s Revival Lab and others
Employees: 35

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

'The Sky is Everywhere'

Director:Josephine Decker

Stars:Grace Kaufman, Pico Alexander, Jacques Colimon



Created by: Darren Star

Starring: Lily Collins, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Ashley Park

Rating: 2.75/5

Other acts on the Jazz Garden bill

Sharrie Williams
The American singer is hugely respected in blues circles due to her passionate vocals and songwriting. Born and raised in Michigan, Williams began recording and touring as a teenage gospel singer. Her career took off with the blues band The Wiseguys. Such was the acclaim of their live shows that they toured throughout Europe and in Africa. As a solo artist, Williams has also collaborated with the likes of the late Dizzy Gillespie, Van Morrison and Mavis Staples.
Lin Rountree
An accomplished smooth jazz artist who blends his chilled approach with R‘n’B. Trained at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, Rountree formed his own band in 2004. He has also recorded with the likes of Kem, Dwele and Conya Doss. He comes to Dubai on the back of his new single Pass The Groove, from his forthcoming 2018 album Stronger Still, which may follow his five previous solo albums in cracking the top 10 of the US jazz charts.
Anita Williams
Dubai-based singer Anita Williams will open the night with a set of covers and swing, jazz and blues standards that made her an in-demand singer across the emirate. The Irish singer has been performing in Dubai since 2008 at venues such as MusicHall and Voda Bar. Her Jazz Garden appearance is career highlight as she will use the event to perform the original song Big Blue Eyes, the single from her debut solo album, due for release soon.

At Eternity’s Gate

Director: Julian Schnabel

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Oscar Isaacs, Mads Mikkelsen

Three stars

10 tips for entry-level job seekers
  • Have an up-to-date, professional LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, set one up today. Avoid poor-quality profile pictures with distracting backgrounds. Include a professional summary and begin to grow your network.
  • Keep track of the job trends in your sector through the news. Apply for job alerts at your dream organisations and the types of jobs you want – LinkedIn uses AI to share similar relevant jobs based on your selections.
  • Double check that you’ve highlighted relevant skills on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
  • For most entry-level jobs, your resume will first be filtered by an applicant tracking system for keywords. Look closely at the description of the job you are applying for and mirror the language as much as possible (while being honest and accurate about your skills and experience).
  • Keep your CV professional and in a simple format – make sure you tailor your cover letter and application to the company and role.
  • Go online and look for details on job specifications for your target position. Make a list of skills required and set yourself some learning goals to tick off all the necessary skills one by one.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach outside your immediate friends and family to other acquaintances and let them know you are looking for new opportunities.
  • Make sure you’ve set your LinkedIn profile to signal that you are “open to opportunities”. Also be sure to use LinkedIn to search for people who are still actively hiring by searching for those that have the headline “I’m hiring” or “We’re hiring” in their profile.
  • Prepare for online interviews using mock interview tools. Even before landing interviews, it can be useful to start practising.
  • Be professional and patient. Always be professional with whoever you are interacting with throughout your search process, this will be remembered. You need to be patient, dedicated and not give up on your search. Candidates need to make sure they are following up appropriately for roles they have applied.

Arda Atalay, head of Mena private sector at LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Rudy Bier, managing partner of Kinetic Business Solutions and Ben Kinerman Daltrey, co-founder of KinFitz

Energy This Week

Expert analysis on oil & gas renewables and clean energy

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      Energy This Week