Wednesday, February 12, 2020

China's Rural Employment Dropped 9.4 Million in 2019

China's rural employment dropped by 9.43 million and urban employment grew by 8.28 million in 2019 as the country continued its transformation from rural to urban according to data reported by the National Bureau of Statistics last week. The number of Chinese people employed in the countryside has fallen 158 million over twenty years, according to data reported by the Bureau. The proportion of workers in the countryside fell from 70 percent in 1999 to 43 percent in 2019. The report noted that overall employment has been declining the last two years along with shrinkage of the working-age population ages 16-64 years old.

China's unemployment rate fluctuated between 5.0 and 5.3 percent during 2019, the Bureau said. Unemployment was lowest in Q2 2019, peaked at 5.3% in February and July, fell to 5.1% in October-November and edged up to 5.2 percent in December 2019. The report said job opportunities are plentiful.

China: Urban Employment Growth and Rural Decline, 2019
Employment, 2019
Source: China National Bureau of Statistics.

A report on population by the same National Bureau of Statistics analyst said China's population surpassed 1.4 billion at the end of 2019 and the urban share of the population reached 60.6 percent. The rural population fell by 12.39 million and the urban population rose by 17.06 million during 2019. Chinese officials are fond of proclaiming their concern for "1 billion peasants," but the rural population was only 551 million at the end of 2019. The rural population has fallen by nearly 269 million over the last 20 years. The rural share of the population has fallen from 65 percent in 1999 to 39.4 percent in 2019.

Source: China National Bureau of Statistics.

Employment concerns were reflected in paragraph 18 of the "Number one document" issued last week which called for "stabilizing rural migrant employment." The document recommended subsidizing companies to keep workers on their payrolls; creating rural construction and other jobs through government investment; boosting rural service jobs in food service, nursing homes, hospitals, and e-commerce; and creating public-sector jobs in villages for plumbers, street cleaners, and guards for roads and forests. The document called for clearing up unpaid wages for migrants and recommended putting deadbeat employers on a black list. The paragraph on village conflict resolution exhorted officials to clear up disputes over unpaid migrant worker wages and to prevent disputes from being taken to higher levels of government. The document said laid-off rural migrants should be able to collect unemployment insurance benefits in their home village. The unemployment insurance burden on companies should be lightened to encourage them to take on more workers, the document said.

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