August 23rd, 2012 | Economic Observer Are Migrant Workers Rushing Back Home Again?
Summary： An official explained that although it might appear that the number of returning workers has more than doubled, but compared to the more than 3 million people who came back to the province in 2008, this is a “small wave”.
Today’s People’s Daily includes an investigative report on page 4 which asks whether many of China’s migrant workers are once again choosing to return to their villages as the macroeconomic environment starts to impact on factory jobs in the southeastern coastal regions of the country.
The People’s Daily sent journalists to two cities that are traditionally a sourcre of migrant labour to try and gauge the movement of workers.
The Human Resource and Social Security Bureau (人力资源和社会保障局) in Henan’s Minquan County (民权县) is normally a major source of migrant workers for other provinces. People working at the bureau told the journalist that 134,500 people from Minquan had gone to another province to work in 2011 and 29,000 migrant workers had returned in the same year.
From January to July this year, 50,000 migrant workers had returned, 21,000 more than over the whole of last year. However, this is only half of the 100,000 returnee workers who flocked back to the county in 2008 when the effects of the global financial crisis were being felt across the country.
The data from Henan Provincial Department of Human Resource and Social Security (河南省人力资源和社会保障厅) revealed that in the first half of 2012, 11.2 million people had left the province to work elsewhere, and 710,000 had returned over the same period, only 6 percent of the total who had gone out to work. Still, the number of returnees was more than at the same time last year, when only 350,000 workers had returned.
An official explained that although it might appear that the number of returning workers has more than doubled, but compared to the more than 3 million people who came back to the province in 2008, this is a “small wave”.
The data from Sichuan’s Provincial Department of Human Resource and Social Security (四川省人力资源和社会保障厅) tells a different story.
Since 2008, more migrant workers in Sichuan have been finding jobs in the province, and in the first half of this year the ratio of those working outside of Sichuan dropped to below 50 percent from 58.7 percent in 2008. In the first half of this year, 21 million rural labourers in Sichuan found work outside their place of residence, 10.9 million of these however did not leave Sichuan.
Wang Chongbao (王崇宝), a migrant worker who just came back to Sichuan, told the People’s Daily that although he earned 3,000 yuan in Guangzhou, he could earn 2,500 yuan and enjoy better accommodation in Sichuan – “It’s better for me to come back.”
Fu Shaohong (伏绍宏), the head of the Institute of Management at Sichuan’s Academy of Social Sciences (四川省社科院管理学研究所), explained that although the number of workers staying in Sichuan could be related to the difficulties faced by factories in coastal regions, the main reason is the restructuring of Chinese industry as more manufacturing jobs move to Western and Central China and also the the increase in pay for workers in inland areas.
Translated by Zhang Dian