China: All about jobs
It's just after 8 and I am standing in the middle of a jobs market in Dongguan in Southern China.
It's mobbed. There are thousands of unemployed young people milling around in a car park in front of a commercially run jobs market.
The employment exchange - plays Chinese pop music at deafening volume, perhaps to give a lift to the idle young people.
Wearing (mostly) dark blue jackets and jeans, they pick up a flimsy newspaper which lists what's available today in the basic industries that characterise the vast local economy.
Its six pages contain just 300 vacancies, not remotely enough to meet the needs of those who are surging in from all sides.
And round the corner, there are hundreds more men - and they are mostly men - at similar recruitment markets (I am told that companies regard women as less bolshy so exercise gender discrimination by sacking fewer of them).
The men come in by bus, by bike, but mostly on foot. And their numbers keep swelling.
When I speak to them, they are grim about prospects: jobs are few; and vacancies so scarce that employers are ruthlessly cutting wages.
A salary of £4 ($5.60) a day is not untypical, even for a position requiring some skills. That's barely a subsistence wage, even here.
The crowd is a troubling manifestation of South China's jobs crisis. Thousands of factories have closed in the region, millions of workers - mostly migrants from impoverished rural China - have been made redundant.
And unlike last year, the global recession means that very few new job opportunities are being created.
South China is one of the great manufacturing areas in the world. And just as thousands of factories sprouted over the past few years, covering every inch of hundreds of miles along the southern coast, now they are being vacated and abandoned at alarming speed.
In manufacturing - from Germany, to Japan, to this vast coastal strip that sucked in millions of migrant workers from China's impoverished countryside - what's going on is a fully-fledged crisis.
In Japan, there's what increasingly looks like a manufacturing depression, a fall in annual output of a tenth or more.
Here in China the official statistics don't speak of quite such a severe output squeeze, but the armies of unemployed going home to their birthplaces - or thronging the job exchanges - suggest that the data understate what's been going on.
This matters to the whole of China, because exports - mostly of manufactured goods - represent almost 40% of China"s economic output.
Of the bigger nations only the German economy is more dependent on overseas sales.
That said, Japan and Germany are more vulnerable than China to the collapse in global demand for goods, because over the past few years their growth has been much more driven by a surge in exports than China's.
For China, this isn't just an economic problem: it may be a social disaster in the making.
Today, the mob was good-humoured. But those I spoke with were pessimistic that things would soon improve.
And they were doubtful that the government's £420bn stimulus package - focused on infrastructure spending rather than direct help for manufacturers - would do much for them (however, the premier, Wen Jiabao, is expected to double this package on Thursday).
For years now millions of Chinese migrants to cities have been working all hours, seven days a week, for the slimmest of wages. They've slept in basic dormitories attached to factories and have enjoyed little leisure and only the most meagre of luxuries.
However the work allowed them to dream of a better life.
If that dream has now been snatched from them, at some point they may manifest their displeasure - which, in a one-party state lacking the conventional western safety valve of protest via the ballot box, could turn this economic debacle into social and political tumult.