It Looks Like the Worst Chinese Labor Market Since 2015

(Bloomberg) -- China’s job market in the first three months of this year was the weakest it has been since 2015 as demand for workers dropped and the number of people looking for work jumped.

The ratio of job vacancies to job seekers declined to 1.68 in the first three months of this year, versus 2.38 in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 1.91 a year earlier. That’s the lowest level since early 2015, when leading online recruiter Zhaopin.com starting releasing the data.

While seasonal factors around the Lunar New Year holidays probably played a factor in the drop, the gauge shows the economic slowdown has dented labor demand. The number of jobs fell 7.6 percent while the number of applicants surged 31 percent, compared to the last three months of 2018.

The technology sector was previously a strong source of demand but declined to fifth in sectors looking for workers, while intermediary services, education and pharmaceutical industries were looking for the most workers.

It Looks Like the Worst Chinese Labor Market Since 2015

Things were especially tough for job seekers in the biggest cities, with roughly two workers competing for every opening, meaning a ratio of 0.51. That’s much worse than a year earlier, when there was 0.71 jobs available per person.

Still, the worst might be behind us. Zhaopin expects the index to rise in the second quarter, with the company saying earlier this month that a deal to end the U.S.-China trade war may boost employment prospects.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.