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article imageIs the trend reversing? Big hubs fear labor shortages in China

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By Valerie Benguiat     Feb 19, 2013 in World
Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and other huge manufacturing hubs are starting to fear serious labor shortages, as inland provinces hold job fairs to lure migrant workers to come back home.
During this Spring Festival (started February 9) some inland provinces held job fairs to attract the migrant workforce that in past years they lost to the big economic hubs on coastal cities.
China’s economic boom attracted rural Chinese to cities in search of better opportunities. These national migrants went from 30 million in 1989 to more than 140 million in 2008, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics (Boxun), creating demographic issues such as illegal settlements, higher urban unemployment and insufficient services for an exponentially denser population, for example.
Also, old people were left behind in their rural towns with no support from their younger family members. Sometimes wives and children would be left behind too. Farmland then laid inert, uncultivated, and the rural economy was drastically affected, creating a growing gap between the income of bustling economic centers and entire provinces below the poverty line.
According to China Daily, in Yichang, (Hubei province), labor authorities hope to retain migrant workers who returned home for the holidays by holding 57 job fairs. These job fairs will take place from Spring Festival until the end of March, and will provide nearly 40,000 jobs.
But as inland cities try to seduce the workers to come back home, coastal cities are fearing how this will affect their productivity.
China Daily reported the case of Zeng Hongwu, the general manager of a Guangzhou-based company, who said that he currently has 500 employees “but is short by about 40 percent”.
"More than 10 percent of workers have not returned after the Spring Festival each year since 2009. We've asked employees this year about their willingness to stay or not and 15 percent of them said they would not come back," he said to China Daily.
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