Hundreds of people in Beijing, including college graduates, have applied for positions as urban management officers, known as chengguan, with many applicants saying that while it is a low-level job, there are no better alternatives.
Experts, meanwhile, have said that the lure of a secure "job for life" is still attractive to many, while others may be enticed by having power.
The jobs have been advertised as part of the second round of civil service recruitment for positions citywide this year, and so far, 6,549 jobseekers have signed up to sit the civil service recruitment examination.
Statistics from Beijing Personnel Testing Authority show that up to 4 pm Tuesday, 120 people had applied for 10 chengguan posts in the city's Xicheng district, and 119 for 10 posts in Changping district.
While a number of scandals involving chengguan brutality have been revealed in recent years, leading many in China to hold a low opinion of the job, one applicant, surnamed Lü, told the Global Times that he feels he has no other choice if he wants a government job.
"It's the only post open to a student with only an associate degree. If I could be employed elsewhere, I wouldn't choose it either," said Lü.
Other government jobs at sub-district levels, which have lower entry requirements, have also attracted high numbers of applicants. There are 108 applicants for two social work administration posts in Xicheng district, and 91 for one personnel management job at Chaowai in Chaoyang district. Both positions require a university education, but do not require other work experience or Party membership.
Ding Yuanzhu, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said that the stability and benefits of a government position are still alluring.
"People believe that having more power equals a more meaningful life, which explains the fierce competition for civil service posts," said Ding, adding that the tough employment situation this year boosts the fervor also.
Zhou Xiaozheng, a professor of sociology from the Renmin University of China, agreed. "No matter how modest the job is, it's with the government. Take chengguan as an example, one will not be an officer all his life. He can wait till the time he has more power," said Zhou.
"People expect to work less and be paid more, which is more likely to happen in the State-owned enterprises. But if you have no connections, you'll never get in," he noted.
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