The number of migrant workers in China reached 262.6 million in 2012, with 163.4 million working away from home for at least six months. These figures come from a new survey by the National Bureau of Statistics, which also showed slower though still considerable growth in migrant workers' average pay, and continued shifts in the age balance and preferred destinations of the floating workforce. From Reuters:
The average monthly wage of migrant workers grew 11.8 percent in 2012 from the previous year to 2,290 yuan ($370). That marked a sharp slowdown from the annual 21.2 percent surge in 2011, according to the latest survey by the National Bureau of Statistics.
[…] The survey reinforced signs that China's export-oriented coastal provinces face growing competition from their inland counterparts as more migrants seek and find jobs closer to home.
The number of migrants working in their home provinces rose 3.6 percent in 2012 from the previous year, outpacing the 2.3 percent rise in the number of people working outside their home provinces.
[…] Provincial officials in the interior have rolled out the red carpet for foreign companies trying to escape higher costs in the more developed coastal areas. [Source]
South China Morning Post's Anita Lam presented a range of reactions to the report:
"Wages jumped 53 per cent over the three years to 2012, which translates into an annual average growth of 17.6 per cent," said Liu Kaiming, the director of a Shenzhen-based labour rights group.
"So it would be natural for wage growth to slow down at some point. I believe it will slow further in the next two years."
[…] The Federation of Hong Kong Industries, 90 per cent of whose members operate factories in the Pearl River Delta, said the slowing of wage increases last year was a warning that manufacturers could no longer bear the recurring double-digit salary rises.
[…] Chong Shing-hum, the president of the Hong Kong Exporters' Association, said he expected wages to grow annually by an average of 10 to 12 per cent in the next two years because labour supply is shrinking faster than demand.