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Global crisis eating up jobs at home
By Zhan Lisheng in Guangzhou and Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-10-28 07:47

Yang Xiaxi seldom paid attention to the happenings in the US because he thought they had nothing to do with him.

But now he realizes he was wrong because in a globalized world, a financial crisis on the other side of the globe can cause a person his job even in Dongguan, Guangdong province.

Though he describes himself as an experienced and professional art designer, he has been out of a job since his former employer, Smart Union, folded up 10 days ago. The Hong Kong-listed toy-maker cited weakening US orders and rising costs, to file for bankruptcy on Oct 17.

"It's a cutthroat job market," he said yesterday. "Some firms are offering a salary just equal to the province's minimum monthly salary (about 800 yuan, or $120), which I cannot accept, while others have closed their doors to job applicants even if they are not downsizing their existing staff."

Manufacturers in the Pearl River Delta region, China's economic engine, are now struggling to keep afloat after the worst Wall Street meltdown since the 1930s has shrunk the demand for Chinese goods.

Universities in Guangdong have seen fewer firms going for campus recruitments.

Huang Yongping, a teacher in the employment guide center of Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen University, said several big firms have cited the global financial crisis as a reason for doing away with or deferring their campus recruitment plans. "And fewer small- and medium-sized firms have approached us this year."

University students are finding it difficult to get a job in the Yangtze River Delta region, China's other economic powerhouse, too.

Jobs offered to Zhejiang University students have fallen by about 30 percent compared with last year, said Zhou Min, an international commerce major of the university.

Competition for jobs also looks exceptionally fierce in Shanghai, which houses many financial institutions that have been hit hard by the financial crisis.

Xu Wei, 22, has a prestigious university degree, internship with several multinational companies and is fluent in oral and written English. But the English major of Shanghai International Studies University still cannot get an interview call for a job.

"I have applied online for more than 30 jobs and visited various job fairs but have got no reply," Xu said.

Tang Xiaolin, director of Fudan University's career development center, said: "There is no doubt the global financial crisis has hurt job growth in China."

Worsening the situation will be the entry of 6 million fresh graduates into the job market next year - 7 percent more than this year, according to official figures.

(China Daily 10/28/2008 page2)