Tuesday, February 3, 2009

China's Migrants See Jobless Ranks Soar

SHUANGYAO, China -- The global slowdown is taking a toll on China, claiming the jobs of an estimated 20 million migrant workers and dimming their prospects as they set out in search of work after the New Year holiday.

The year ahead appears no more promising: Officials forecast the number of migrants looking for jobs will reach at least 25 million.

The government estimates the total population of rural migrants -- those working outside their home village -- at approximately 130 million people.

China doesn't conduct regular surveys to gauge nationwide unemployment; Mr. Chen's estimate of 20 million job losses covered only migrant workers. He said his figure was based on an official survey in January of migrant workers in 15 provinces, which showed 15.3% of respondents had lost their jobs or been unable to find work. He said the total number of migrants seeking work this year will likely be at least 25 million, since usually six million to seven million people join the migrant work force each year.

China's government worries that if migrants cannot find jobs, they will be a force for unrest. The uncertainty is being felt in Shuangyao, just north of the Yangtze River in central China's Anhui province. Roughly 150 people from this village of 60 families -- or almost all able-bodied adults between ages 20 and 60 -- work elsewhere, in cities such as Beijing or factory towns in China's export hub, the Pearl River Delta.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123359977495740199.html

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