China’s college grads out-earned by migrant workers
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China’s college grads out-earned by migrant workers

A majority of China’s college graduates earn less than migrant workers, according to a new study from Tsinghua University.

The university’s China Data Center reported that 69 percent of this year’s university graduates earn less than 2,000 yuan (US$314) every month.

Meanwhile, the average migrant worker takes in a monthly pay of 2,049 yuan, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

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Graduating university students dress as migrant workers in Guangdong province. Pic: nddaily.com

But some graduates’ disappointing salaries may be the envy of many former classmates.

By the end of June, 58 percent of China’s class of 2012 had not yet found a job, according to a survey by the education research company MyCOS.

“The job market for graduates is the worst since 2009,” said Jennifer Feng, chief human resources expert at 51job Inc., a Shanghai-based online recruiter.

Feng told Businessweek that 20 to 30 percent of graduates may not find jobs before the end of the year.

Graduate unemployment stood at 22 percent in 2011, according to Premier Wen Jiabao’s report to the National People’s Congress in March.

China will have a record 6.8 million new graduates in 2012, up from 6.6 million in 2011.

Student numbers at China’s universities have grown rapidly in recent years, leading to a excess of graduates entering a job market that has yet to accommodate their rising numbers.  Meanwhile, a shortage of unskilled labor has brought a growing need to fill blue-collar jobs.

The labor shortage has contributed to migrant workers’ rising wages, which increased an average of 359 yuan in 2011, a 21 percent increase from the previous year.

China’s government has promised to increase efforts to help graduates find employment.  The official Xinhua News Agency reported this week that jobless graduates will be required to register with local employment agencies to help facilitate job placement.

“Employment support policies should be fully implemented with entrepreneurial incentives, social security benefits for micro-enterprising, vocational training subsidies, living allowances for internships and job and social security subsidies for people experiencing employment difficulties,” said Xin Changxing, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security.

However officials warn that job search prospects are unlikely to improve in the near future.

“Currently and in the future, China’s employment situation will become more complex and more severe,” Premier Wen Jiabao told the China Securities Journal.

“The task of promoting full employment will be very heavy and we must make greater efforts to achieve it,” he added.