At job fairs in China, lower pay and fewer openings

STORY: China is one of the world's last countries to return to something like a pre-COVID way of life...

and one sign things are shifting are the hundreds of job fairs like this one in Beijing, many set to take place this month.

It's a welcome sight for China's leaders after the economy saw its weakest performance in half a century last year... and bruising youth unemployment neared a peak of 20%.

Job fairs are an efficient way for employers to reach out in China, where 1.4 billion people live.

But some attendees weren't brimming with confidence about what's on offer.

This 24-year-old, who was looking for a job in a hotel or property management, said he only hopes for a stable job and not high pay.

One recruitment manager at the fair said competition for jobs was tough.

"We haven't met any job seekers who are demanding a lot in salary. Our main focus here today is to find those living nearby for some of the positions. And we’ll also try to match those who live nearby with some positions. There are a lot of people who are out of work due to the epidemic."

Employment anxiety is also widespread.

A survey of about 50,000 white-collar workers published on Thursday by Zhaopin, one of China's biggest recruiting firms, showed more than 47% of them were worried they may lose their jobs this year.

Those working in consumer-facing jobs had higher job confidence than those in the manufacturing,

which has been hit by sputtering demand for what China makes overseas... and a property market slump.

After a disappointing report card last year...

...the outlook for China's economy in the year ahead isn't much better...

... with the pain from stringent COVID rules lingering.

Policymakers are expected to only aim for growth of about 5%,

still below the blistering pre-pandemic pace China once enjoyed.