More university graduates in China are choosing to look for jobs in smaller cities instead of in typically coveted locales such as financial hub Shanghai and capital Beijing, according to a new report.

The report by Chinese education consultancy MyCOS looked at statistics on university graduates from the class of 2018 to 2022.

It found that the percentage of graduates employed in county-level localities six months after graduation rose from 20% for the 2018 cohort to 25% for 2022.

The report also found that for the combined 2016/2017 cohorts, nearly 60% of undergraduates who returned to smaller cities to work stayed there continuously for five years.

Meanwhile, 40% returned to these cities for employment after working elsewhere for “a period”.

Improved incomes beyond the big cities

Increased income levels in county-level localities and job satisfaction were some of the factors cited for the trend, reported the state-run Global Times.

The average monthly income for university graduates working in counties has risen from 4,640 yuan (US$641) in 2018 to 5,377 yuan in 2022, the Global Times cited from the report.

The latter figure was singled out by Chinese netizens as the MyCOS report trended on Weibo under the hashtag “average salary of undergraduates working in smaller cities is 5,377 yuan”.

Many users left similar remarks in the comments section of Phoenix Finance’s Weibo post on the story, wondering which smaller city offers a monthly salary of that amount.

One comment which garnered more than 2,300 likes read: “The actual monthly salary in smaller cities is 2,000 yuan, with two days off per month, and no social insurance paid.”

Another netizen remarked, “Besides the smaller cities in the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta, can master’s degree holders from other places (earn more than this amount)?”

Yet another user on Weibo wrote: “Why do I feel like my smaller city (salary) isn’t that high … it’s possible for some, but the small companies my schoolmates work at only have an average salary of 3,500 (yuan).” – CNA


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