China's tight job market defies economic downturn

Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:17pm EDT
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By Koh Gui Qing

BEIJING (Reuters) - Workers living through the slowest run of global economic growth in more than three years are in fear for their jobs everywhere except in the very place investors are most concerned about - China.

Despite six straight quarters of slowing growth, there are more job vacancies in China than there have been for around a decade, giving workers the unlikely luxury of job-hopping during a downturn.

"It's not that I am not happy in my current job, but everyone has the freedom to look for better opportunities and bigger companies to work for," said Hu, an urban planner browsing a weekend jobs fair in north Beijing.

"I am 80 percent satisfied with my job right now, but my ideal (monthly) pay after taxes is 20,000 yuan ($3,100)," he said, declining to give his full name.

Skilled staff are in short supply as the world's second largest economy has moved up the industrial value chain.

And even more fundamentally the country is working through the demographic shift wrought by the government's decades-old one-child policy.

During the 2008/09 economic downturn, firms in the mainland let go staff, only to end up paying more to rehire when the economy rebounded sharply, reducing profits.

Learning from that lesson, firms this time are opting to cut hours rather than jobs.   Continued...

Employees work at a Sany assembly plant in Lingang Industrial Park, near Shanghai June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Barria