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China’s army of migrant workers is becoming less mobile

China’s army of migrant workers is becoming less mobile


China’s army of migrant workers, a source of cheap labour in the world’s second biggest economy, is greying and becoming less mobile, according to the latest annual survey conducted by the Chinese government.

A report published by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that China had 288.36 million migrant workers at the end of 2018, a rise of 0.6 per cent from a year earlier. However, these migrant workers have become less willing to travel far from home to look for work, with many inland governments encouraging them to return home to start their own businesses.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner, issued a policy last year asking local authorities to offer grants to migrant workers returning home – but this is only part of the story. Government officials have said that China’s slowing economy, which has resulted in a spate of factory closures, may have accelerated the return home of migrant workers.