China / Society

Migrant population in Shanghai shrinks as city caps number

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-02 07:35

Migrant population in Shanghai shrinks as city caps number

A group of migrant workers in their temporary dorm at a construction site in the Pudong district of Shanghai in May. [Photo/Xinhua]

Shanghai's permanent migrant population shrank for the first time in 15 years in 2015, according to recently released data.

According to figures released by the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau, the permanent migrant population-migrants who stay in the city for more than half the year-dropped by 1.5 percent for the first time last year to 9.82 million.

The proportion of migrants in the total population of permanent residents also dropped 0.5 percentage point to 40.6 percent. The total population fell by 104,100 to 24.15 million.

Meanwhile, the number of ordinary permanent residents who have household registration grew 43,600 to 14.33 million.

"The various regulatory measures taken since 2004 have gradually lowered the growth of the city's total population, especially the migrant population, and led to the negative growth," said Zhou Haiwang, deputy director of the Institute of Urban and Population Development Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

In fact, the signs of the coming negative growth in the city's permanent migrant population began to show up in 2010, as growth began a five-year slowing trend.

One driver of the slowdown was an adjustment in the industrial structure and a reduction in the number of jobs, especially in the low-end manufacturing sector.

"I've noticed an obvious loss of migrant workers in my factory within the past three years as they can't afford the rising daily expenses and housing costs and left for other cities or their hometowns," said Jin Feipeng, who runs a clock company in Shanghai, with a factory in Minhang district.

Jin added that he was forced to raise the salaries of workers every year and absorb rising material costs at the same time.

There are also some permanent residents-not migrants-who escape from the city temporarily to lower their expenses but retain residential registration for the sake of their children.

"I couldn't find a high-paying job in Shanghai, but I still need the household registration for my son to receive an education here in the city as a local resident, maybe in three years. So I chose to be away temporarily to save up," said Shen Hong, who has a household registration in Shanghai but currently resides in her hometown, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

In addition, to tackle the pressures brought by the rapid growth of the population and urbanization, Shanghai's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) emphasized that by the end of last year, a ceiling on the city's permanent resident population was targeted below 25 million, an increase over half a decade of just 850,000 from the current figure.

"Although the growth of the population will remain slow for several years, it will eventually return to a positive track as the development of the service sector will offer more job opportunities in the future," Zhou said.

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