Home / China / China

Western and inland cities drain labor from the East

By He Dan and zhu lixin from China Daily and Zhong Qun from Xinhua | China Daily | Updated: 2014-02-12 07:00


Western and inland cities drain labor from the East

The owner of a garment factory in Pixian county, Sichuan province, hands out red envelopes with money to her employees on Saturday. Tan Xi / for China Daily

Lu Jingjun, human resources manager of Suzhou Opple Lighting Co, has been busy these days traveling in Anhui province to recruit workers.

Lu said his company in Jiangsu province needs about 5,000 workers for production but fell 900 workers short after Lunar New Year.

"We used to have many migrant workers from Anhui province, but now more and more choose to return to their hometowns for work," he said.

Big cities and coastal metropolises in East China may experience a harsh labor shortage after the weeklong Spring Festival holiday, because an increasing number of migrant workers are disheartened by strict population control policies and high living costs, analysts said.

The issue came to the fore following the publication of a survey on Monday showing a shortfall of 123,300 workers in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

Migrant workers traditionally return to their hometowns for Lunar New Year and look for new jobs after the holiday.

Fujian province also faces a shortfall of 80,000 workers, Wang Jianmin, deputy chief of the province's human resources and social security bureau, said on Tuesday.

Lu's company attended a job fair in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, on Monday with about 61 companies from Beijing, Shanghai and other eastern provinces.

Around 18,000 job seekers attended the fair, according to the All China Federation of Trade Unions.

Job seeker Lu Haiyan said most of her friends and relatives who went to coastal cities for work have returned home, where they "earn almost the same but spend less."

Liu Junsheng, a researcher at the Labor and Wage Institute under the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said companies in developed regions will have a harder time finding employees after Spring Festival because of tightened regulations on population controls.

The Beijing government has initiated several measures to curb excessive population growth, including a crackdown on illegal shared housing, removing markets for garments, small commodities and building materials and a possible rise in subway fares, Liu said.

In recent years, small and medium-sized cities in central and western China have experienced rapid growth, which has enticed some workers to move to those areas.

The huge inflow of foreign capital and the emergence of industries such as electronic devices have increased the demand for migrant workers in the west.

Li Runcai, managing director of Qiyun Plastics, a Guangdong company that makes plastic products, went to several job fairs in Southwest China's Chongqing as well, where he hoped to fill the job vacancies in his company.

"A good number of workers previously working in the Pearl River Delta have gone back to Chongqing, a big labor pool in China, and it's getting harder to hire them back," Li said.

According to the municipality's labor department, laborers in Chongqing who chose to work in the city's vicinity outnumbered those working outside the municipality for the first time in 2011, and in early 2013, the difference exceeded 1 million.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the number of migrant workers in central and western regions grew more quickly than in the east in 2012, and the proportion of migrant laborers in the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta that year fell by 0.5 and 0.3 percentage points.

Contact the writer at hedan@chinadaily.com.cn



Editor's picks