The number of Chinese college graduates has soared in the past decade—but there aren’t enough white-collar jobs to sustain the highly-educated young population, reports the New York Times. Traveling en masse to big cities, working six-day weeks, and living packed into cramped quarters, young graduates have earned themselves the nickname “the ant tribe.” Once thought to be a guaranteed ticket to a better life, “college essentially provided them with nothing,” says a political scientist.
There are plenty of would-be accountants and computer programmers to go around; Beijing is host to some 100,000 members of the ant tribe. Between 2003 and 2009, starting pay has stayed the same for college grads, while starting salaries for laborers have soared some 80%. But cities retain their allure: “Compared with Beijing, my hometown feels like it’s stuck in the 1950s,” says one young graduate.