In another indication of China's improving economic outlook, a record number of migrant workers managed to find jobs by the end of June.
The success of the 150 million migrant workers who found work contrasted sharply with news earlier this year that 20 million unemployed migrant workers had given up on life in the cities and returned to their villages.
The exodus of unemployed migrant workers was caused by the global financial crisis, which hit China's export sector hard and led to the closure of many factories - traditional employers of migrant workers from China's rural areas.
By the half-year point, the trend had reversed and migrant workers were flowing back to the cities, thanks to the efforts of the central government, said Chen Xiwen, director of the office of the central leading group on rural work.
According to the latest statistics, 150 million migrant workers left their home towns and villages to take up work in city factories by the end of June - "the highest in history", said Chen at a news conference.
In 2008, the number was around 130 million.
"Although China was hit by the global financial crisis, it has a larger area and a bigger market, where things can be done to solve problems," Chen said.
Cai Fang, director of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the rebound in the employment prospects of migrant workers was partly due to their adaptability.
"Migrant workers have a strong job flexibility. It makes them able to accept new jobs in the construction industry and the tertiary industry, though many used to work in the manufacturing industry," he said.
That flexibility also manifests itself in their willingness to accept less-well-paid jobs when economic times are not good, Cai said.
The growth in jobs for migrant workers was to be expected following the government's efforts to maintain economic growth at 8 percent, he said.
The government has poured investment into infrastructure and adopted policies to boost domestic demand.
China's economic growth hit 7.9 percent in the second quarter, up from 6.1 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics said in July.
Exports, retail sales and factory output also improved in July, according to official statistics.
The improvements were responsible for the additional jobs for migrant workers and "some areas have even faced a shortage of labor recently", Cai added.
The government's massive infrastructure spending has also benefited rural areas, Chen said, with stimulus spending being used to improve rural roads, power grids and water supply.
"There is a possibility that we could turn the crisis into an opportunity in the rural areas, and keep growth in the countryside at an ideal rate," Chen said.
The drought in Northeast, Central and Southwest China will likely lead to a reduction in the yield of corn in the coming months but the nation's stocks will ensure there is enough supply and prices will remain stable, Chen said at the press conference.
(China Daily 09/05/2009 page1)