China's workforce 'dries up'
The seemingly endless flow of young Chinese workers that helped to create the country's economic miracle has now finally "dried up", according to a leading economist.
Chinese automotive workers install an engine into a Chery QQ model car at their factory in the Wuhu, Anhui Province
Workshop of the world: young workers in decline due to strict Chinese policies on the size of the family Photo: AFP
By Malcolm Moore, Shanghai 3:32PM BST 27 Mar 2011
For decades, China has been able to rely on its vast workforce to manufacture a host of goods more cheaply and efficiently than anywhere else in the world.
But now China's leaders are worrying that the country's one-child policy has begun to stem the tide of young workers ready to step forward into the country's factories.
"Each year, the number of new workers joining factories is smaller than the number of old workers who are retiring," said Zhang Zheng, an economist at the elite Guanghua School of Management at Peking University. "The supply has dried up," he added.
Last year, according to his calculations, only 154 million people under 30 were part of China's enormous 550 million-strong industrial workforce.
Mr Zhang added that it was not just demographics that was sapping the workforce of younger staff, but also the growing ambition of young Chinese to pursue further education and then white-collar jobs.
The shortage of young workers is a headache for Chinese factory bosses, who need workers that can put up with long hours and work that demands physical strength, precision and good eyesight.
As a result, wages have shot up by anything from 15 per cent to 40 per cent in some areas, making China a more expensive location for foreign companies to manufacture their goods.
"Chinese companies have to accept the fact they have to raise wages," said Mr Zhang. "And foreign clients will have to accept that China is not just a place to manufacture cheap goods. Without rising prices, fewer Chinese companies will be willing to take orders," he added.
I thought that was fascinating, not only it is good for the Chinese and all the other countries that will now see their wages rise because jobs go to them, but also because I seem to remember quite clearly that if it wasnt for the glory of government intervention wages would NEVA EVA rise and that the Chinese government keeps wages low and so further and so on...