China’s Housing Downturn Threatens Millions of Careers

China’s once-booming property market is facing a harsh reality check, and the repercussions could extend far beyond unfinished apartments and frustrated homeowners. Analysts warn that the housing slump could derail the careers of millions of people employed in the vast real estate sector.

The story is a familiar one – a period of explosive growth followed by a sudden halt. Buoyed by soaring property prices, the real estate industry became a magnet for talent, particularly during the 2010s. Young graduates, like Ivy Zhang, a chemistry graduate who thrived in sales for a major developer, flocked to the sector, lured by lucrative commissions and the promise of a secure future.

However, the party came to an abrupt end in 2021. The government, concerned about runaway debt and a speculative bubble, clamped down on borrowing by developers. This triggered a domino effect – sales plummeted, construction stalled, and major players like China Evergrande defaulted on debts.

The economic impact is undeniable. Bloomberg Economics predicts the housing sector’s contribution to China’s GDP could shrink from 25% to just 16% by 2026. This translates to a potential loss of up to five million jobs, a number equivalent to the entire population of Ireland.

The pain is already being felt. Layoffs are becoming commonplace in construction firms and property agencies. Careers built on a foundation of rising prices are now facing a period of uncertainty. Individuals who poured their energy and ambition into the real estate boom are left scrambling for new opportunities.

The government is attempting to soften the blow by easing mortgage restrictions and encouraging local governments to buy unsold homes. However, the success of these measures remains to be seen.

China’s housing slump serves as a cautionary tale. While a strong property market can fuel economic growth, unchecked speculation carries significant risks. The human cost of a housing crash extends beyond financial losses – it can disrupt entire careers and derail life plans.


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