23 October 2015

CIER Employment Index shows slowing employment rates in China

Chinese career platform Zhaopin and the China Institute for Employment Research (CIER) at Renmin University have released the CIER Employment Index* Report for the third quarter of 2015, covering July to September, 2015.

The CIER Index increased steadily from 2011 to 2014, reflecting the relative ease with which job seekers could find employment. As the economy slows, the employment market has slowed with it. CIER Index scores have since trended downward during the past two quarters, from a high of 2.46 during the first quarter of 2015. The CIER Index decreased during the third quarter of 2015 to 1.96, down from 2.03 during the second quarter of 2015, indicating even weaker employment confidence in the market.

During the third quarter of 2015, e-commerce registered a CIER Index score* of 5.63, which was first among all sectors, followed by the funds/securities/futures/investment sector with a score of 5.33. The CIER Index for the ten best performing sectors were all above 2.5, demonstrating strong confidence in finding employment in these sectors. The CIER Index for the ten worst performing sectors were all lower than 1.0, demonstrating an excess of job seekers in these sectors.

The ten best-performing sectors include finance and emerging service sectors such as e-commerce. The ten worst-performing sectors were all related to traditional manufacturing and services.

 Sectors most likely to employ in Q315
 CIER Index 
 Real estate/construction/building materials 
 Professional service/consulting 
 (accounting/law/human resource)
 Farming/forestry/animal husbandry/fishery

 Sectors least likely to employ in Q315
 CIER Index 
 Aerospace research and manufacturing 
 Rental service
 Electricity/power/water conservancy
 Office supplies and equipment
 Property management/business centre
 Environmental protection

Total recruitment demand from the IT/Internet sector** during the third quarter of 2015 increased 41% year-over-year. Demand from the e-commerce sector in third and fourth-tier cities increased by more than 100% year-over-year, while demand in the first, emerging-first and second-tier cities increased by over 50% year-over-year. Recruitment demand from the online games sector in second and third-tier cities increased by 72% and 130% respectively during the third quarter of 2015.

Year-over-year change in recruitment demand from the IT/Internet sector in Q315
 IT services (system, data, maintenance) 
 Computer software
 Computer hardware
 Online games
Total recruitment demand from the financial sector*** increased 29% year-over-year during the third quarter of 2015. Recruitment demand from the banking sector increased 45% year-on-year, while recruitment demand from the funds/securities/futures/investment sector increased 28% year-on-year.
As China's financial markets develop, recruitment demand from the financial sector in third- and fourth-tier cities grew more rapidly than in first- and second-tier cities during the third quarter of 2015, increasing by 70% year-over-year. This increase reflects the expansion of financial services to lower-tier cities in China.

Year-on-year change in recruitment demand from the financial sector in Q315

 Financial sector
Recruitment demand from the traffic/transportation sector grew steadily in part due to various economic stimulus measures, especially those from construction funds established by banks to support infrastructure development. According to statistics compiled by China's National Development and Reform Commission, total approved investment in railway and road construction projects totalled RMB421.6 billion in September 2015. As a result, recruitment demand from the traffic/transportation sector increased 18% year-over-year during the third quarter of 2015, against 3% year-over-year growth during the second quarter of 2015. Demand from third-tier cities and below increased 87% year-over-year.

China's Belt and Road Initiative has created new growth opportunities for foreign trade during the third quarter of 2015. Seeking to take advantage, many Chinese firms increased overseas investment, resulting in increased demand for relevant professionals. Recruitment demand from the trade/import & export sector increased 18% year-over-year.

The real estate sector has yet to make a recovery since last year. Large firms continue to feel the negative impact as they see their financial and operational performances suffer. Recruitment demand from the real estate sector continued to fall, decreasing 15% year-over-year during the third quarter of 2015.

Year-on-year change in recruitment demand across sectors in Q315
 Trade/import & export
 Fast-moving consumer goods
 Durable consumer goods
 Real estate

Geographically, the CIER Index score for Eastern and Central China during the third quarter of 2015 were flat sequentially. The CIER Index score for Western China decreased significantly on a sequential basis as competition for a limited number of jobs heated up. Recruitment demand in Central China increased 24% year-on-year during the third quarter of 2015, significantly higher than Eastern China's 17% and Western China's 14% year-over-year growth rate. The implementation of the national urbanisation strategy has spurred economic growth across in China's central plains and middle Yangtze River regions. As the government works to transform traditional industries, the Central China region has established local industry clusters, some of which were moved from Eastern China.

 CIER Index
 Year-on-year change in
 recruitment demand
 Eastern China
 Central China
 Western China 

 Year-on-year change in
 recruitment demand
 Emerging first-tier 
There is more confidence seen at the micro- and small enterprise level. The CIER Index for companies of various sizes during the third quarter of 2015 were (from highest to lowest):

 Company size 
 CIER Index 
 Year-on-year change in
 recruitment demand

The CIER Index score for small and micro-sized enterprises was higher than middle and large-sized enterprises. Thanks to government policies that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship as drivers for the new economy, SMEs have greater growth potential and therefore greater demand for labour. During the third quarter of 2015, recruitment demand from micro-sized companies increased 52% year-over-year. Recruitment demand from micro, small-and-medium sized companies was much higher than that of large-sized companies.

According to Zhaopin and CIER, monthly CIER Index scores adjusted for seasonality are expected to trend downwards in coming months as a result of the macroeconomic environment in ChinaChina's "Internet Plus" strategy has begun an irreversible trend which will continue to create more employment opportunities and restructure the labour force in China. Many industries are now finding the need for various Internet-related professionals which is creating a cross-industry flow of Internet professionals. Emerging industries such as big data and cloud computing are creating new businesses which are spurring employment growth. The demand for Internet/IT talent is expected to continue to grow, especially within the e-commerce sector.

In terms of locales, increased urbanisation and social development will continue to draw talent towards Eastern China and Central China as demand from several hundred small-and-middle sized cities outside of China's 40+ super cities grows. During this process, employment options in small-and-middle sized cities will grow as a more favourable employment environment for job seekers is created.

*The CIER Index score for a period is calculated with data from zhaopin.com by dividing the number of job vacancies during a specified period by the number of unique job seekers that apply to jobs during the same period. Data in the calculation is derived from Zhaopin's online platform. Zhaopin calculates the number of job postings by counting the number of newly placed job postings during each respective period. Job postings that were placed prior to a specified period - even if available during such period - are not counted as job postings for the period. Any job posting placed on the company's website may include more than one job opening or position.

CIER Index score of more than 1 indicates that confidence is high for job seekers seeking employment. A CIER Index score of less than 1 indicates that confidence for job seekers seeking employment is low.

**The IT/Internet sector includes IT services (system, data, maintenance), computer software, computer hardware, e-commerce and online games.

***The financial sector includes funds/securities/futures/investment, banking and trusts/warrants/auctions/pawn-broking.