Average Salary of China’s White-Collar Workers Declined in Q2 of 2017

As the competition for jobs in China eased in the second quarter, the average monthly salary  for white-collar workers dropped by 3.8% over the previous quarter, the first quarter-over-quarter decline in two years, according to Zhaopin Limited’s 2017 second-quarter report on China labor market supply and demand for white-collar workers.

The average monthly salary dropped to RMB7,376 in the second quarter of 2017, down 3.8% over the first quarter. This was the first salary decline in China since the second quarter of 2015.

The falling average salary for white-collar workers was mainly caused by the plunge in salaries at micro-sized companies, which cut their salaries by 31% in the second quarter of 2017.

Beijing continued to be the city with the highest pay in the second quarter of 2017, with an average monthly salary of RMB9,791, representing a drop of RMB151 from the first quarter.

Competition among white-collar workers for jobs eased in the second quarter of 2017, with an average of 35.8 applications per job vacancy, down from 44.6 applications in the first quarter.

Telecommunication/carrier operators/value-added service replaced online games as the most competitive sector for job seekers in the second quarter of 2017, with 57.3 applications per vacancy.

The most competitive occupation in the second quarter of 2017 was software/internet development/system integration with 122.7 applications per vacancy.

Declining Salaries

Based on online job postings in 37 key cities in China compiled by Zhaopin, the average monthly salary in the second quarter of 2017 was RMB7,376, down 3.8% over the first quarter. This was the first time that the average monthly salary declined quarter-over-quarter since the second quarter of 2015 when Zhaopin began to calculate the nationwide average salary for white-collar workers.

The falling average salary for white-collar workers was mainly caused by the plunge in salaries at micro-sized companies, which cut their salaries by 31% in the second quarter. With investment waning, many small start-ups became more rational and could no longer offer higher salaries to attract talents. An additional factor contributing to the overall decline in salaries in the second quarter of 2017 was that more jobs were located in lower-tier cities, where pay is normally lower.

Among job postings in the second quarter of 2017, 32.8% of positions offered monthly salaries between RMB4,001 and 6,000, and 25.9% offered monthly salaries of more than RMB8,000. About 20.3% of positions offered monthly salaries between RMB2,001 and 4,000.

Beijing continued to be the city with the highest pay in the second quarter of 2017, with an average monthly salary of RMB9,791, representing a drop of RMB151 from the first quarter. The average monthly salary also declined slightly in Shanghai and Shenzhen in the second quarter. The salary in Hangzhou actually went up to RMB7,933, jumping to the 4th in ranking.

The best-paying sector in the second quarter of 2017 continued to be professional services/consulting (finance and accounting, legal and Human Resources, etc.) with an average monthly salary of RMB10,165, followed by RMB9,475 for funds/securities/futures/investment and RMB9,159 for intermediary services.

The top three occupations with the highest monthly salaries in the second quarter of 2017 were senior management (RMB18,818), IT management/project coordination (RMB13,915) and securities/futures/investment management/service (RMB11,546).

Wholly foreign-owned enterprises offered the highest average monthly salary of RMB8,064 in the second quarter, followed by RMB8,025 for public companies and RMB7,903 for joint ventures.

The average monthly salary of micro-sized companies with fewer than 20 employees plunged from RMB9,532 in the first quarter to RMB6,568 in the second quarter. With investment waning, many start-ups could no longer afford to offer higher salaries as before to attract talents.

Job market competition easing for white-collar workers

Zhaopin publishes the quarterly competitive index for the labor market based on data collected from its online platform. The competitive index is calculated based on the number of resume applications divided by the number of job vacancies. For the second quarter of 2017, the competitive index was 35.8, which means there were an average of 36 applications per job vacancy, down from 44.6 in the first quarter of 2017.

Compared with the previous four quarters, the job market competition for white-collar workers eased in the second quarter of 2017. With the aging demographic, the labor supply began to dwindle in China. Meanwhile, job seekers were more cautious and tended to submit fewer resumes than before.

Beijing was by far the most competitive city for white-collar workers, with a competitive index of 89.9 in the second quarter of 2017, down from 96.0 in the first quarter of 2017.

First-tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou) continued to be the top four cities with the highest job demand in the second quarter of 2017. Emerging first-tier cities, including Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Tianjin and Xi'an, were also among the top ten cities with the highest job demand.

The top ten cities with most job applications in the second quarter of 2017 were the same cities with the highest job demand, indicating that cities with high job demand were also attracting job seekers.

In terms of employer size, companies with 1,000 to 9,999 employees were the most competitive for job seekers, with an index of 42.5, followed by 40.5 for companies with 500 to 999 employees. The competition for positions in small and micro-sized companies was relatively low due to low brand recognition.

Supply and demand by sector

In the second quarter of 2017, the internet/e-commerce sector still topped the list with the most job vacancies, followed by real estate/construction/building materials/engineering and education/training/college sectors. The booming of artificial intelligence created huge job demand in the internet/e-commerce sector.

Telecommunication/carrier operators/value-added service replaced online games as the most competitive sector for job seekers in the second quarter of 2017, with 57.3 applications per vacancy. The competitive index for most sectors declined in the second quarter of 2017 from the previous quarter.

Insurance continued to be the least competitive sector in the second quarter of 2017, with 15.5 applications per vacancy, followed by 19.4 for intermediary service and 22.1 for office supplies and equipment.

The sectors with the most job applications in the second quarter of 2017 included internet/e-commerce, computer software and real estate/construction/building materials/engineering.

Supply and demand by occupation

The top occupations with the most vacancies for white collar workers in the second quarter of 2017 were almost the same as in the first quarter of 2017, including sales, administration/logistics/secretary, and software/internet development/system integration.

The most competitive occupation in the second quarter of 2017 was software/internet development/system integration with 122.7 applications per vacancy, followed by 88.4 for IT quality management/testing/configuration management, and 67.4 for finance/auditing/tax.

The least competitive occupations in the second quarter of 2017 were healthcare/beauty/hairdressing/bodybuilding with 9.6 applications per vacancy, followed by 12.4 for community/residency/housekeeping, and 12.7 for insurance.

The top ten occupations with the most job applications in the second quarter of 2017 were the same as in the first quarter of 2017 with some changes in rankings.

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