Slow Down in Salary Growth of White-Collar Workers in China in Q1 2017

April 14, 20178:53 am
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With intensifying competition among white-collar workers for jobs in the first quarter of 2017, the increase in average monthly salaries slowed down significantly, according to findings released by Zhaopin Limited, a leading career platform in China in its 2017 first-quarter report on China’s labour market supply and demand for white-collar workers.

Key highlights from the findings are:

  • The average monthly salary edged up only 0.8% to reach RMB7,665 in the first quarter of 2017, from RMB7,606 in the fourth quarter of 2016.
  • Beijing continued to be the city with the highest pay, with an average monthly salary of RMB9,942; followed by RMB9,802 in Shanghai; RMB8,892 in Shenzhen and RMB7,996 in Guangzhou.
  • Competition among white-collar workers for jobs heated up in the first quarter of 2017, with an average of 44.6 applications per job vacancy, up from 40.3 applications in the fourth quarter of 2016.
  • Beijing was by far the most competitive city for white-collar workers, with 96.0 applications per vacancy in the first quarter of 2017, followed by Shenzhen (60.5), Chengdu (59.4) and Shanghai (53.3).
  • The most competitive sector for job seekers in the first quarter of 2017 was online games, with 73 applications per vacancy.
  • Software/internet development/system integration was the most competitive occupation in the first quarter of 2017, with 136.1 applications per vacancy.

Salary growth slowed down

Based on online job postings in 37 key cities in China, the average monthly salary in the first quarter of 2017 edged up only 0.8% to reach RMB7,665 from RMB7,606 in the fourth quarter of 2016. The growth of average salaries for white-collar workers hit the brakes during the past two quarters, slowing down from a 4.1% rise in the third quarter of 2016.

Average monthly salary for white-collar workers
Quarter Average salary (yuan) Change over previous quarter
Q1 2016 7,018 3.9%
Q2 2016 7,233 3.1%
Q3 2016 7,531 4.1%
Q4 2016 7,606 1.0%
Q1 2017 7,665 0.8%

Among job postings in the first quarter of 2017, 33 percent of positions offered monthly salaries between RMB4,001 to 6,000, and 25.3 percent offered monthly salaries of more than RMB8,000. About 18 percent of positions offered monthly salaries below RMB4,000.

Breakdown of positions by monthly salaries in the first quarter of 2017
Salary (RMB) Percentage of positions
Over 8,000 25.3%
6,001 to 8,000 23.8%
4,001 to 6,000 33.0%
2,001 to 4,000 16.4%
Below 2,000 1.6%

See: Most Desirable Benefits by Employees in China in 2017

Beijing continues to be the city with the highest pay in the first quarter of 2017, with an average monthly salary of RMB9,942, followed by RMB9,802 in Shanghai, RMB8,892 in Shenzhen and RMB7,996 in Guangzhou. Foshan in Guangdong Province jumped to 5th in the country, with an average salary reaching RMB7,873.

Average monthly salary for cities in the first quarter of 2017
Ranking City Average
monthly salary
(RMB)
Ranking City Average
monthly salary
(RMB)
1 Beijing 9,942 20 Kunming 6,862
2 Shanghai 9,802 21 Wuhan 6,769
3 Shenzhen 8,892 22 Tianjin 6,733
4 Guangzhou 7,996 23 Lanzhou 6,704
5 Foshan 7,873 24 Zhengzhou 6,692
6 Dongguan 7,862 25 Hefei 6,684
7 Ningbo 7,680 26 Nanchang 6,669
8 Hangzhou 7,608 27 Changsha 6,660
9 Suzhou 7,548 28 Qingdao 6,651
10 Xiamen 7,452 29 Dalian 6,631
11 Haikou 7,407 30 Jinan 6,487
12 Nanjing 7,342 31 Shijiazhuang 6,413
13 Urumqi 7,095 32 Shenyang 6,367
14 Fuzhou 7,073 33 Taiyuan 6,355
15 Guiyang 7,023 34 Yantai 6,274
16 Wuxi 7,021 35 Xi’an 6,197
17 Chongqing 6,971 36 Changchun 6,090
18 Nanning 6,946 37 Harbin 5,915
19 Chengdu 6,941

The best-paying sector in the first quarter of 2017 continued to be professional services/consulting (finance and accounting, legal and HR, etc.) with an average monthly salary of RMB9,947, followed by RMB9,467 for funds/securities/futures/investment and RMB8,995 for banking.

The top three occupations with the highest monthly salaries in the first quarter of 2017 were senior management (RMB19,493), IT management/project coordination (RMB14,389) and securities/futures/investment management/service (RMB10,958).

Top 10 highest paid occupations in the first quarter of 2017
Occupation Average monthly
salary (RMB)
Senior management 19,493
IT management/project coordination 14,389
Securities/futures/investment
management/service
10,958
Sales management 10,682
Project management/project coordination 10,055
Real estate development/broker/agency 10,018
Banking 9,671
Trust/warrant/auction/pawn 9,550
Software/internet development/system
integration
9,534
Lawyer/legal/compliance 9,023

Except for joint ventures, the average salaries in other types of companies all went up in the first quarter of 2017. Joint ventures still offered the highest average monthly salary of RMB8,254, compared with RMB8,000 for wholly foreign-owned enterprises and RMB7,766 for public companies. The average monthly salary of public institutions was the lowest at RMB7,528.

The average monthly salary of micro-sized companies with fewer than 20 employees was RMB9,532, much higher than salaries of bigger companies. These micro-sized companies had to offer higher salaries to compete with bigger companies which had more advantages in brand reputation, training and career development.

Average monthly salaries for companies of different sizes

in the first quarter of 2017

Size of company by employee numbers Average monthly
salary (RMB)
Below 20 9,532
20-99 7,641
100-499 7,561
500-999 7,459
1,000-9,999 7,777
Above 10,000 7,883

Job market competition intensifies for white-collar workers

For the first quarter of 2017, the competitive index was 44.6, which means there were an average of 45 applications per job vacancy, up from 40.3 in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Beijing was by far the most competitive city for white-collar workers, with a competitive index of 96.0 in the first quarter of 2017, followed by Shenzhen (60.5), Chengdu (59.4) and Shanghai (53.3).

Competitive index for cities in the first quarter of 2017
Ranking City Index Ranking City Index
1 Beijing 96.0 20 Wuxi 27.8
2 Shenzhen 60.5 21 Lanzhou 27.6
3 Chengdu 59.4 22 Qingdao 26.7
4 Shanghai 53.3 23 Shijiazhuang 25.6
5 Shenyang 50.8 24 Hefei 25.4
6 Xi’an 48.4 25 Kunming 24.4
7 Dalian 43.2 26 Haikou 23.2
8 Tianjin 42.2 27 Guiyang 22.6
9 Guangzhou 39.1 28 Jinan 21.5
10 Wuhan 39.0 29 Nanchang 20.6
11 Chongqing 39.0 30 Yantai 20.2
12 Changsha 38.6 31 Fuzhou 19.8
13 Suzhou 37.5 32 Xiamen 19.0
14 Nanjing 34.9 33 Urumqi 19.0
15 Hangzhou 33.8 34 Dongguan 18.0
16 Taiyuan 31.5 35 Foshan 17.2
17 Changchun 31.3 36 Nanning 16.1
18 Harbin 31.3 37 Ningbo 15.3
19 Zhengzhou 29.7
Competitive index = number of applications/number of job vacancies

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

Top ten cities with the highest job
demand in the first quarter of 2017
Ranking City
1 Beijing
2 Shanghai
3 Shenzhen
4 Guangzhou
5 Zhengzhou
6 Chengdu
7 Hangzhou
8 Xi’an
9 Nanjing
10 Tianjin

 

The top ten cities with most job applications in the first 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 54.3, followed by 51.7 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.

Competitive index for different size companies

 in the first quarter of 2017

Size of Company by
employee numbers
Index
Below 20 32.8
20-99 38.1
100-499 48.4
500-999 51.7
1,000-9,999 54.3
Over 10,000 43.8

Supply and demand by sector

In the first quarter of 2017, the booming internet/e-commerce sector still topped the list with most job vacancies, followed by real estate/construction/building materials/engineering and funds/securities/futures/investment. The top ten sectors with the highest job demand were the same as the previous quarter.

Top ten sectors with the highest job demand in the first quarter of 2017
Ranking Sector
1 Internet/e-commerce
2 Real estate/construction/building materials/engineering
3 Funds/securities/futures/investment
4 Education/training/college
5 Computer software
6 Trade/export and import
7 Professional service/consulting (finance and accounting, legal and HR, etc.)
8 FMCG (food, drinks, alcohol and tobacco, and chemicals for daily use)
9 Media/publishing/movie and TV/culture communications
10 IT services (system/data/maintenance)

The most competitive sector for job seekers in the first quarter of 2017 was online games, with 73.0 applications per vacancy, followed by 64.3 for real estate/construction/building materials/engineering, and 59.0 for telecom/carrier operators/value-added service.

Insurance continued to be the least competitive sector in the first quarter of 2017, with 16.7 applications per vacancy, followed by 24.2 for intermediary service and 29.4 for office supplies and equipment.

Least competitive sectors in the first quarter of 2017
Sector Index
Insurance 16.7
Intermediary service 24.2
Office supplies and equipment 29.4
Printing/packaging/papermaking 30.2
Banking 32.2
Leasing service 32.7
Hotel/restaurant 32.7
Healthcare/nursing/beauty 33.0
Education/training/college 33.5
Trust/warrant/auction/pawn 33.8

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

Supply and demand by occupation

The top occupations with the most vacancies for white collar workers in the first quarter of 2017 were the same as the fourth quarter of 2016, including sales, administration/logistics/secretary, and sales management.

The most competitive occupation in the first quarter of 2017 was software/internet development/system integration with 136.1 applications per vacancy, followed by 96.0 for finance/auditing/tax, and 92.4 for civil engineering/construction/decoration/municipal engineering.

The least competitive occupations in the first quarter of 2017 were healthcare/beauty/hairdressing/bodybuilding with 11.3 applications per vacancy, followed by 13.8 for insurance, and 14.3 for community/residency/housekeeping.

Also read: Top 10 Talent Trends in China for 2017