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Competition for white-collar jobs eases in China and wages continue to rise in third quarter

Competition for white-collar jobs eased in the mainland while average salaries continued to rise in the third quarter, according to an industry report.

In the third quarter, an average of 38 applicants competed one white-collar vacancy across the country, down from 45 in second quarter and 48 in the first three months, according to a report by New York-listed Zhaopin, a major online career platform in China.

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The report said the situation was due to demand by workers and lower supply : vacancies were rising as employers ramped up hiring, while experienced white collar workers were choosing to hold on to their jobs ahead of their year-end bonuses.

Lower competition came in tandem with rising salaries – average white-collar monthly salaries nationwide jumped 4.1 per cent to 7,531 yuan (HK$8,736) in the third quarter, up from 7,233 yuan in the second quarter.

“The job market continued to improve in the third quarter as the overall economy stabilised,” Evan Guo, chief executive officer and director of Zhaopin, told the South China Morning Post, noting that the upward momentum was expected to continue in the rest of the year.

Beijing, the capital city, remained the city with highest white-collar pay, at an average of 9,886 yuan monthly, followed by 9,642 yuan in Shanghai and 8,582 yuan in Shenzhen.

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From job postings in the third quarter, the greatest demand for white-collar workers was in first-tier cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. But demand was also brisk in regional business centres and lower-tier cities including Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Tianjin, Xian, Nanjing and Wuhan.

In contrast, Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province in China’s rust belt, witnessed a more competitive job market as Liaoning’s economy contracted 1 per cent in the first half.

However, Siren Xia, general manager of Shanghai Mercer Insurance Brokers, said was still too early to welcome an upbeat 2017 as white-collar workers’ holding on to current positions also reflected their nervousness about the economic outlook.

“The general job market, including the white-collar segment, could still face headwinds next year as the real economy could still be pinched by downward pressure, despite some short-term relief,” she said. “But it’s true that in hot industries such as internet and high-tech, hiring momentum will continue. ”

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China’s economy grew 6.7 per cent in the third quarter, the same as in the first half.

Market watchers said the momentum was continuing in the fourth quarter.

“Following the National Holiday period, job vacancies and competition for top talent is again increasing, particularly in the internet, digital and hi-tech sectors, which continue to experience strong growth and ongoing investment,” said Simon Lance, managing director at Hays China, a global hiring firm.

Premier Li Keqiang said earlier this month that China shown better-than-expected economic development in the third quarter, especially in job creation. More than 10 million new urban jobs were created across the country in the first nine months, already reaching the full-year target. In September, a survey in 31 major cities showed that the unemployment rate was less than 5 per cent the first time in recent years, Li said.