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An Ever-growing Cohort of Public Servants in China

China is expected to see a record number of college graduates in 2023, with an estimated 11.58 million students graduating from national universities. In response, China’s central and local governments are implementing measures to create employment opportunities for graduates. Data shows that the proportion of fresh graduates among the total applicants for the National Civil Service Examination has risen from 39.17% in 2019 to 67.4% in 2023.

A recent paper published by a professor and doctoral student at East China University of Science and Technology analyzed the impact of the post-epidemic era on job security. The study found that high-risk workers were experiencing high rates of job loss and pay cuts, highlighting the vulnerability of modern life and reinforcing traditional concepts of occupation. This societal shift has contributed to a growing faith in the government sector among young people, who see it as a stable and secure workplace amidst an abnormal job market characterized by overtime culture, fierce competition, and unstable income.

In 2023, nearly 2.6 million people applied to take the national civil service examination, representing a 25% increase from the previous year. The ratio of the number of successful exam takers to the number of available positions reached 70:1.

However, some experts are concerned about the long-term impact of an increasing number of graduates entering government employment. Tian Xianpeng, an associate professor at Jiangnan University, warned that the government can only provide a limited number of positions, and the influx of graduates is likely to intensify competition for these positions.

Li Chao, chief economist of Zheshang Securities, pointed out that the fundamental issue contributing to high youth unemployment is the mismatch between the education system and market demands. In reality, the labor market and education system are not sufficiently aligned to ensure a strong match between graduates’ skills and market needs.

Source:, February 27, 2023