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Unemployment soars among China’s migrant workers

They have powered the export machine of the world’s second-largest economy for the past four decades. 

Like the oil that lubricates its working parts, the DNA of migrant workers is ingrained in President Xi Jinping’s “China Dream” policy. Until now.

Tucked away in data released by the National Bureau of Statistics last week were figures showing that this segment of the employment market had been struggling since the start of the year.

By the end of February, rural migrant workers taking jobs outside their hometowns had declined by close to 30% to 122.5 million, “meaning about a third of them were unemployed.”

“[The fact that the NBS] has been allowed to publish such dire data may be a positive sign that data manipulation for political purposes is receding … emphasis on ‘may,’” Trivium China said earlier this week.

But since the economy is still operating at around 83% of normal output, the challenges facing Beijing are immense, the policy research group stated.

To add to that toxic mix, migrant workers saw their monthly salaries plunge by 7.9% to 3,680 yuan or US$520. The dramatic drop in pay was the first decline since China initially published the numbers in 2009.

900 million

Again, to put that into context, there were approximately 290 million migrant workers in 2018 out of a working-age population of roughly 900 million.

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