Seven people holding master's degrees began their jobs as sanitation workers this month in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province.
The move sparked heated discussion on why highly educated graduates would apply for the poorly paid jobs.
The city has recruited 448 sanitation workers. About 41 percent of the 11,539 applicants were college graduates.
"I didn't expect this post to attract so many well educated job seekers," said Wei Chang, deputy director of the Harbin city administration bureau.
Experts said the figure indicates that the highly educated population is facing a grim employment situation.
The salary of the cleaners is about 1,600 yuan ($256.8) per month, which is slightly above the minimum wage.
However, the job attracted highly educated job hunters because public-sector employees have stable salaries.
"Although the work is hard, it is stable. I will never have to worry about losing my job," said Hao Wenfang, one of the seven cleaners holding master's degrees.
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