By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Shanghai
The cuts will make life even harder for this year's graduates
Nearly 70% of multinational companies in China plan to cut recruitment this year, and more than a quarter have laid off staff already, a survey suggests.
Of the more than 350 companies questioned in different sectors across the country, finance, communications and IT firms were the hardest hit.
Two years ago the multinationals were competing to hire the brightest talent from China's universities.
But since the financial crisis, jobs there no longer look so secure.
Jobs in multinational companies are highly prized in China especially white collar jobs.
For a start the pay is often better than you might get as a public servant or the employee of a state-owned enterprise.
The jobs tend to be concentrated at the moment in the larger cities like Beijing or Shanghai, or in the areas where there are many factories making goods for export.
Since the financial crisis, jobs are less secure in multinational firms whose parent companies have run into trouble overseas like CitiGroup or Motorola.
This year there was a record number of applications for the civil service. More than 750,000 people applied for just 13,500 places.
The surveys of the multinationals reported in the state media suggest that those applicants were wise to seek safer alternatives.
Almost seven out of 10 of the firms polled made clear they planned to recruit fewer staff in the year ahead - that will make life even harder for this year's graduates.
There are fewer jobs available than before and they will be competing with other unemployed graduates from previous years and with newly laid-off workers who already have experience.
The graduate employment market has always been tough in China but this year it is looking like it will be tougher than ever.