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Moving back home: the upside and the down

By Yu Ran (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-07-05 11:07
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While there is no shortage of people available for work in China, their distribution is problematic. "In China, we have 200 million people without jobs, and a huge gap between urban and rural areas," Premier Wen Jiabao said last year at the China Development Forum.

There also are 200 million migrant workers, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. But the once seemingly endless flow of migrant workers to big cities and coastal provinces seems to be dwindling.

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Many migrants who returned to their hometowns for Spring Festival decided to stay for reasons that include the lower cost of living, new prospects closer to home and the high pressure of urban life.

According to a survey last year by National Bureau of Statistics, 41.5 percent of migrant workers were unmarried in 2009 and facing challenges in job competition, healthcare and housing.

Without a stable job with regular income, good healthcare and housing assistance, they can't afford to marry and raise a family.

"To solve the imbalance of income and life expenses, migrant workers choose to earn a bit lower in their hometowns and also take care of their families instead of coming to cities," said Zhang Zhenning, senior HR consultant at China-HR's talent research center in Shanghai.

Employers should offer them better living conditions, higher incomes and a home-like atmosphere, Zhang said.

The Wenzhou Shoe and Leather Industry Association is taking that approach with its blue-collar migrant employees. "We are urging shoe company owners to add more entertainment activities for their workers on the weekends," said Lin Jinyou, the group's deputy secretary-general.

In addition, Lin said, the association changed its focus this year from product numbers to enhancing cooperation between employers and workers. That's the way to produce long-term success, he said.