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Oracle job postings in China plummet as trade war drags on

5 months ago by Jon Marino in Markets

Oracle ($NYSE:ORCL) has substantially cut back on job postings in China. 

The California tech giant reduced job postings by more than 54% in China, from a peak in 2018 of 262 to 119 as of early June, according to data gathered from its recruitment page and analyzed over time by Thinknum. 

It's a sharp contrast to Oracle's job postings worldwide. The company hit a two year peak in May for job postings, pulling back slightly only this month. In 2019, Oracle's job postings grew nearly 10%, according to the data. 

However, Oracle is far from the lone US company to begin guiding some of its work away from China as it and US President Donald Trump ratchet up rhetoric aimed at forcing the other to make policy concessions. Colorado-based electronics maker Arrow Electronics ($NYSE:ARW) cut job listings by more than 75% from December 1 through June, according to the company's online postings. Further, from the beginning of November until current day, Arrow eliminated 78% of China job postings. 

The hiring upheaval comes at a critical time for Silicon Valley companies whose production and supply chains are being disrupted in the US and abroad — and who must navigate relationships with now-irascible government officials on both sides. For makers of hardware — be it Oracle, Arrow, or other companies that make physical goods in China and ship them to the US — there are challenging variables in play.

In October, Bloomberg reported that US technology companies and American intelligence investigators determined that an entity in China planted microchips in hardware - including servers used by the United States government - that acted as a "stealth doorway" for hackers. The story was challenged by virtually every party named in it, but was never debunked (or, more importantly: subject to a correction), and still looms over Silicon Valley companies responsible for guarding sensitive corporate information and data subject to privacy restrictions and regulation. 

And then there are the tariffs - incoming goods from China are facing more taxation with every Presidential tweet, it seems, and US companies that have outsourced manufacturing processes to Chinese factories are now forced to recalibrate margins due to the trade war. But relocating technolgy production operations out of China isn't easily done - especially when doing so, could cost the tech companies valued Chinese business partners and clients. 

A report over the weekend in the New York Times explained Chinese government officials "summoned" executives from US technology companies including Microsoft and Dell to warn them of "consequences" if they changed production or supply chain protocol in a way that adversely impacted China. It's a sign that both the US and China could be digging in for a protracted trade war, with long-term ramifications; next week Thinknum will reveal what each of these companies has been doing in terms of their China job postings. 

This makes Amazon ($NASDAQ:AMZN) - a frequent target of President Trump's social media comments - an interesting outlier. The company has substantially driven up job postings in China, which appears to be a bit of an anomaly for the trade policy climate. With the one-year anniversary of the trade war between the US and China coming in less than a month, it appears there will be little to celebrate for technology companies - or for elected officials. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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