Home / Business / ‘Reverse migration’ is on the rise in China as workers leave big cities

‘Reverse migration’ is on the rise in China as workers leave big cities

Chinese migrant workers rest at a gas station after riding a motorcycle January 25, 2019 in Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, China.

Wang He | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Beijing — After years of trying to build the city. Chinese migrant workers returning home

elderly population high cost of living and new businesses such as live-streamed ecommerce. It has contributed to a reversal of the haste to the big cities that have defined China̵

7;s economic expansion in recent decades.

Official information states that Millions of Chinese people have not returned to work in urban areas after the coronavirus outbreak last year at the end of March. The Bureau of Statistics said there were still 2.46 million fewer migrants from the same period in 2019.

Dan Wang, Shanghai-based chief economist at Hang Seng China, said: “Rural and urban migration slowed before the coronavirus. and decreased for the first time in 2020

“Reverse migration will increase over the next few years. partly because [the workers] They can’t afford urban housing and they don’t have access to urban health care,” Wang said. A key factor she points to is aging – the share of migrant workers over 50 has more than doubled over 12 years. last year it was 26%

data show that Instead of traveling to major Chinese cities such as Beijing or Shanghai. More migrants will be closer to home within the same province.

Government policies have also contributed to the trend.

As states have loosened control over the economy over the past few decades. Tens of millions of Chinese people find work in big cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen. Local governments have built subways and other urban infrastructure. to support growth

However, many migrants face difficult working conditions as factory workers. or most recently, a freight forwarding company for the Chinese e-commerce giant. A rigid housing system known as “hukou” prevents migrants from accessing health services and schools. or buy real estate in the city where you work People’s floods have contributed to the depletion of local resources. urge the authorities to expel migrants

Smaller cities such as Xi’an have tried to attract highly skilled or educated workers by offering benefits such as status of residence.

Stay at home and stream live.

China has tried other forms of urbanization. to build infrastructure in rural areas These efforts have resulted in Beijing meeting its extreme poverty alleviation goals. This is a promise the government claims was fulfilled last year.

Official figures show last year. More people in 2019 returned to the countryside to start their businesses, 1.6 million more than in 2019, aided by subsidies. The official report states that slightly more than half of entrepreneurial projects are focused on the use of live streaming and other online methods. to sell products

More and more people outside the big cities are finding work in this digital economy. Because they can work remotely for companies that may still be in the city.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro.

Qingtuanshe, a job search platform within the Alipay mobile app, said last year There has been a huge increase in posting for live stream hosts and related events. The company has increased the share of employees for these jobs from Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities.

and among the small businesses growing in this industry Beijing-based PR firm Vyoung claims to receive calls from 20 to 30 more people a day from smaller cities to discuss influencer partnerships with big fashion brands.

According to a report from government-related agencies, the digital economy has grown to contribute more than a third of total GDP. More than 50 million people in rural areas became Internet users last year.

Jialu Shan, an economist and academic in Asian and emerging markets at the International Institute for Management Development, said it was no longer easy for newcomers to the live streaming industry to become stars. But the market needs more influencers in the “mid-tier” segment..

Last year’s rapid growth in live-streaming came with many complaints about counterfeit products and high yields, Shan said. She expects the industry to grow into healthier conditions. while still providing unused opportunities in specific areas such as services

bigger economic challenges

However, it is unclear how much the digital economy will contribute to its growth. Retail sales rose slower than expected. And the share of online sales is stagnant. This is a concern for economies that try to rely more on personal consumption.

In the first quarter, consumer optimism increased at all levels of income. But the measure of increased spending remains muted. According to a survey by Ant Group and the Center for Household Finance at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics.

in high-value technology industries such as semiconductors Chinese leaders have warned of talent shortages. And China’s top Tsinghua University even opened a college in April to focus on chips.

Yin Zheng, head of product marketing at Moka, a recruitment-focused human resources firm, said the company’s corporate customers are mostly large corporations and large technology businesses.

mismatch of workers

For most workers with less education moving to a small town or returning to the countryside can reduce the cost of living but lower salary As a result, China’s income is unequal.

Analysts at Chinese investment bank CICC said in a report this month that in the low-end labor market Both the unemployment rate and the job search rate have increased since the epidemic. This reflects the disconnection between employers and workers.

Official data show that while the unemployment rate – based on a survey of residents only – dropped to 5% in May. But cities have created 230,000 fewer jobs this year compared to the same period in 2020.

The Bureau of Statistics did not provide the latest figures on migrants in its latest press release this month.

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