Dong and many others like him plan go back to coastal cities that for three decades have been churning out goods for American consumers and improving the living standard of China’s peasant farmers. But with the Chinese economy in the throes of its worst industrial decline in years, analysts say, there won’t be enough jobs to satisfy the crush of returning workers — raising the specter of more social turmoil and, for those staying in villages, conflicts over land and farming rights.
Dong was laid off from an electronics factory in southeastern Guangdong province, one of countless plants in China suffering from a drop-off in orders from the U.S. and Europe.
“How shall I put it?” he said, searching for words to explain his joblessness. Dong’s girlfriend leaned on her lanky man as a dozen neighbors hovered over them to listen in.