China now produces eight million new college graduates each year, four times as many as ten years ago. The job market, however, has not adjusted accordingly. While the graduate glut sharpens competition for white collar jobs even as it drives down wages, the educated unemployed are put off plentiful factory jobs by heightened expectations, lack of prestige, and fear of damage to long-term career prospects. The resulting frustration may prove a long-term challenge to social stability, writes Keith Bradsher at The New York Times:
Wang Zengsong is desperate for a steady job. He has been unemployed for most of the three years since he graduated from a community college here after growing up on a rice farm. Mr. Wang, 25, has worked only several months at a time in low-paying jobs, once as a shopping mall guard, another time as a restaurant waiter and most recently as an office building security guard.
[…] “I have never and will never consider a factory job — what’s the point of sitting there hour after hour, doing repetitive work?” he asked.
Millions of recent college graduates in China like Mr. Wang are asking the same question. A result is an anomaly: Jobs go begging in factories while many educated young workers are unemployed or underemployed. A national survey of urban residents, released this winter by a Chinese university, showed that among people in their early 20s, those with a college degree were four times as likely to be unemployed as those with only an elementary school education.