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Migrant workers rise in number to 115 million

Updated: 2006-11-23 11:11
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A survey by the Ministry of Agriculture shows China's migrant worker population has grown to 114.9 million with an estimated 6.7 million new migrant workers this year.

China's vast rural areas have provided cheap labor for the country's industrialization drive since the 1990s with an average annual increase of 4.03 million migrant workers from 1998 to 2005.

The ministry estimated the migrant worker population would increase on average by four million annually in the next few years.

Zhang Hongyu, a senior official with the ministry, told a forum on agricultural talent and skills development Wednesday that 70 percent of migrant workers had primary school education and 21.8 percent had gone to high school.

"About 43.6 percent of migrant workers worked in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, 9.4 percent less than in 2002. More migrant workers are willing to work in western and eastern areas and abroad," said Zhang.

According to the ministry, migrant workers have seen their average wage increase to 852 yuan (106 U.S. dollars) per month in 2006 from 803 yuan in 2005.

Migrant workers mainly work in the service sector, with 24.2 percent in industry, 21.1 percent in construction and nearly half in the commercial and restaurant sectors.

China has 1.3 billion people, more than 800 million of whom are farmers.