The number of applicants for civil service jobs has dropped in most places so far this year, according to information released by provincial-level governments.
Sixteen of the 18 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions that released employment information on Thursday saw a decrease in applicants year-on-year.
The number of applicants in Zhejiang province was down 37 percent from 360,000 last year to 227,000 this year, according to the human resources and social security department.
Most other provinces saw a decrease of between 10 and 30 percent this year, the Beijing News reported.
Only Shaanxi province and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region have seen increases in the number of applicants this year.
Meanwhile, 15 provincial-level governments have cut the number of civil service positions available. The number of posts in Zhejiang province, for example, is about 1,500 less than last year.
Civil service jobs have long been deemed ideal for many college graduates. The central authorities, provincial-level governments and city governments respectively recruit civil servants once a year.
In 2013, for example, 1.52 million graduates took the national civil service exam. On average, about 77 applicants competed for each available position. The most desirable posts saw a competitive ratio of 7,192 to 1.
Gu Ruocun, a graduate from Shandong Normal University who works for a private company, said that more than half of his classmates applied for positions in the provincial government last year.
"In my opinion, civil service is a decent job with decent pay," he said, adding that he is preparing for this year's application exam after failing a year ago.
Xu Yaotong, a professor of public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said that the central government has begun reforms to streamline public agencies. Local governments will tend to follow suit to decrease the number of new civil posts, Xu said.
The decrease in applicants this year shows that the public has been changing its attitude toward such jobs, he said, adding that it is good news that more young people want to work outside of the government.
Gao Wenshu, a professor of human resources at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the current evaluation system for government workers should be improved. Many grassroots civil servants have been working very hard for low pay, Gao said.
Premier Li Keqiang pledged in March last year that the government's size would not grow, as the ongoing round of institutional restructuring aims at streamlining government functions and decentralizing power over the market and society.
"Once you are devoted to public service, you have to abandon the idea of becoming rich," Li warned officials at his first news conference as China's premier.