The job fair in the Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen offered a white-collar future for a country that rose to economic greatness on the strength of its assembly lines, bulldozers and cranes. Technology, financial and real estate companies pitched jobs in sales, engineering, accounting and logistics. A $150,000-a-year salary, said one poster, “isn’t just a dream.”
But for many job seekers, it still seemed like one. At one end of the event hall, two dozen candidates sat dejectedly under a banner that read, “Hope you find a good job soon.” “Job hunting,” said Hou Hao, a 28-year-old accountant who could not find a position that matched her previous $2,700-per-month salary, “now feels like being constantly slapped in the face.”
China’s slowdown, which has idled factories and construction sites, is rippling through its offices. Educated, white-collar workers are being hit with job cuts and shrinking paychecks. Even big technology companies like JD.com, the online retailer, and Didi Chuxing, China’s answer to Uber and one of the world’s most valuable start-ups, have not been spared.