BEIJING - An estimated 600,000 migrant workers have left China's southern Guangdong Province due to unemployment in 2008 after the worldwide financial crisis hit the region, a government official said Thursday.
Guangdong Province Vice Governor Huang Yunlong revealed the statistics at a press conference after the country's top economic planner released a long-term plan to develop the Pearl River Delta.
Guangdong is the forefront of the country's reform and opening policy. Since 1978, the province's annual gross domestic product (GDP) has increased by an average of 13.45 percent, 3.5 percentage points higher than the nation's average. The Pearl River Delta in southern Guangdong is the country's manufacturing and exporting center.
However, the financial crisis has brought Guangdong "the most difficult year after the 1998 Asian financial crisis", Huang said.
"More than 143,000 migrant workers left Guangdong in the first half of 2008. By the end of last October, the number reached 500,000. The Guangdong statistics bureau estimated that a total of 600,000 migrant workers might have left the province last year," he said.
Other major economic indicators in Guangdong, including GDP, importing and exporting, also slowed in 2008. Local fiscal revenue slowed down 9 percentage points over that of 2007.
Yet Huang insisted that Guangdong had a good ground for future development.
In 2008, Guangdong's GDP grew 10.1 percent year-on-year, despite a slowed growth rate by 4.6 percentage points. The GDP per capita increased 8.7 percent.
Foreign trade industry, a driving force of the province's economy, increased by 8.2 percent, of which exporting and importing grew by 5.6 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively. However, the total volume of importing and exporting slowed 12.1 percentage points over 2007.
According to the Guangdong Statistics Bureau, 100,600 companies were established in 2008, while 62,400 had been eliminated. The province now has more than 996,900 registered companies.
Meanwhile, Guangdong has been trying to improve conditions for migrant workers. In 2008, 10.55 million migrant workers joined medical insurance, 13.5 million are included in work injury insurance and 4.58 million joined unemployment insurance programs.
"These figures are all No. 1 in China in treating migrant workers," Huang said.