Beijing reflects China's growing labor shortage

Feb. 25, 2014 at 12:44 AM
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BEIJING, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- China's labor shortage is becoming acute as seen in Beijing where the labor supply has fallen to less than half of the demand, official media said.

Beijing is representative of what is happening throughout the country's industrialized eastern region as more of the country's critical migrant workers prefer to go to central or western China, where wages might be lower but so are living costs.

The China Daily reported Tuesday that positions in the IT and manufacturing sectors in the Chinese capital are not able to fill available positions.

It quoted a forecast by the Beijing Human Resources and Social Security Bureau that the capital will have only 218,000 people available against 556,000 new positions that will open up in the first six months of this year.

China Daily said the shortage continues despite an average 1,000 yuan ($164) increase last year in the monthly salary of workers.

Chen Yu with the China Association of Employment Promotion told the newspaper that an imbalance in educational priorities with greater focus on academic subjects may be partly to blame for the shortage.

"In a general sense, the output of our schools and universities doesn't match the qualities today's employers need," he said.

Earlier this week, China's official Xinhua News Agency, highlighting the problem in the industrialized east, quoted the chairman of an electronics factory in eastern Zhejiang Province as saying: "If you introduce me to one worker, you can get 200 yuan ($33)."

The report said such finders fee offerings have become common as factories scramble to fill jobs left vacant by those failing to return after Lunar New Year homecomings as they seek to go to less expensive central or western China. The other trend is workers seeking to find employment closer to their hometowns.

The country had 269 million migrant workers in 2013, up 2.4 percent year on year, but down from a year-on-year increase of nearly 4 percent in 2012.

"The slowdown shows that rural labor is no longer an undepletable pool," Yang Zhiming with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security told a news conference.

Guangdong province, China's main production and export center bordering Hong Kong, had faced a labor shortage of about 800,000 workers. The province accounts for a third of China's exports and such labor shortages were seen as adversely affecting any effort to ramp up exports to meet demand.

Compounding China's labor shortage is its slowing economy, the world's second largest after the United States.

China's economy grew 7.7 percent in 2013 from the previous year, unchanged from the year-on-year growth in 2012. Growth in the fourth quarter of last year was 7.7 percent, down from 7.8 percent in the third quarter.

Growth in 2014 is expected to further slow to 7.4 percent. China's leaders have said they are committed to implementing various reforms to reduce the economy's reliance on investments and trade by encouraging domestic spending.

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