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China’s jobless migrant workers reaches 30m

According to BoFIT:

As many as 30 million migrant workers now out of work. At the end of January, the official estimate for the number of unemployed migrant workers was about 23 million. Last week, the deputy head of the Chinese State Council’s Development & Research Center said the actual amount is now about 30 % higher. Estimates of the size of the pool of migrant workers also vary. The government recently increased its estimate from 130 million people to about 225 million, of which 13 % are thought to be jobless at the moment. Some 14 million migrant workers who recently lost their jobs have apparently decided to remain in their rural home districts after returning home to cele-brate this year’s Chinese New Year holiday rather than struggle to find new work in the cities.

China’s official unemployment rate, which does not count unemployed country-dwellers, is still a relatively modest 4.3 %. The official unemployment rate, however, has been rising since the fourth quarter of 2008 with the slowdown in economic growth and factory closings. The government still says it wants to keep the official unem-ployment rate below 4.6 % in 2009 and has targeted the creation of 9 million new jobs by the end of the year. In the first three months of this year, an estimated 2.7 million new jobs have been created, about 12 % less than in the same period in 2008. Even so, the current rate of job crea-tion is more than 50 % higher than the rate of job creation 4Q08. China’s official unemployment numbers are gener-ally considered unreliable; some estimates put China’s unemployment rate in recent months at around 10 %.
Labour market disputes (e.g. due to unpaid wages) are on the increase. Almost 100,000 civil claims were filed in the first quarter, a nearly 60 % jump from 1Q08.

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