China’s class of 2008 students saw the nation’s economy make double-digit annual growth seem routine. China has added nearly 11 million new jobs a year since 2004 (in contrast, the U.S. added about 1 million jobs last year), and in a culture in which the only thing revered more than education is making money, the former is supposed to lead directly to the latter.
It does not seem to be happening in quite that way.
Generating enough jobs for the masses of newly minted capitalists who emerge from China’s university system has for years been a challenge.
Last year, about one-third of college grads went jobless for at least six months after graduation, according to government estimates.
This year’s crop of 5.6 million grads — 740,000 more than last year — is the largest ever.
Due in part to a falloff in demand from the ailing United States, China’s export growth is slowing sharply.
Manufacturing contracted in July for the first time since at least 2005, according to China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, resulting in reduced hiring by the sector.
Meanwhile, a 50% drop in China’s stock markets from their peak last October has led both consumers and companies to be more cautious about their outlays.
This is, for China, a sharp deceleration that is already being reflected in the labor market. For college graduates getting the right job has become much, much tougher.