The job scenario in cities for migrant workers is far less bleak than originally forecast, the government said yesterday, citing an extensive nationwide survey.
About 11 million are now looking for jobs in cities, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. That is less than half of the 23 million the NBS itself said late last year would need jobs after the global financial crisis started to take its toll on many export-oriented enterprises in coastal regions.
The bureau released its findings after conducting a survey of 68,000 rural families in 31 provinces during the festival.
Over 70 million migrant workers returned home during the festival, of whom 56 million had left for jobs in cities after the traditional family reunion, the report said.
The remaining 14 million stayed back and were either working around their townships, tilling their land or looking for lower-paid jobs.
Of the 56 million who went to cities seeking employment, 45 million have been successful, leaving 11 million still jobless.
The survey also found that there are 225.42 million migrant workers in China. Around 140 million work away from their home counties, with 71 percent in the developed eastern and northern parts of the country and the remaining in the central and western areas.
But finding jobs is getting more difficult in the worst-hit export sector in the coastal regions where thousands of factories have been forced to shut down or cut jobs.
In Guangdong province, about 570,000 workers were left jobless last year after more than 4,900 export-oriented companies and factories closed down.
Chen Xiwen, director of the office of the Central Leading Group on Rural Work, told China Daily earlier this month that the number of the jobless migrant workers would be between 20 million and 30 million.
The central government has made employment for migrant workers and college graduates a priority this year. Local governments have told to take measures to stabilize the employment situation, such as offering free vocational training and employment service.
"Those who are still looking for jobs can manage to make a living in cities now," Xu Yong, professor of rural development at Huazhong Normal University, told China Daily yesterday.
"Their situation is generally stable, according to my field studies during the Spring Festival."
Migrant worker Zhou Chaohai, 30, is among those looking for a job - he has spent two weeks in Chongqing.
"I did not go back to Shenzhen this year," the chef told China Daily over the weekend. "But the salary here is low. I want at least 1,500 yuan ($210) a month but they (the employers) are offering me 1,200 yuan."
Zhou returned to his hometown Nanchuan from Shenzhen last December after being laid off from an electronics factory. He now spends 4 yuan a night for a bed in a cheap inn near the labor market and 10 yuan for food. But his money is running out.
"I will either have to borrow money to continue here or return to my hometown," he said.
Xu suggested that local governments step up vocational training and employment services for migrant workers.
(China Daily March 26, 2009)