Wages are going up even without the government’s prodding. The development of China’s west has turned interior cities such as Chongqing into production centers that compete for labor with coastal factories. The pay of the migrant laborers who fuel China’s export industry rose by 40 percent in 2010, according to Credit Suisse’s Tao. It will continue climbing 20 percent to 30 percent in each of the next three years as Chinese leaders pump up domestic demand.
Workers are getting picky. A recent pay hike of more than 10 percent in a Shenzhen bra factory wasn’t enough to keep some workers in town. Luo Chenen, a 33-year-old migrant worker who sews bras for Hong Kong-listed Top Form International, says “quite a few” of her colleagues left after the lunar new year for their hometowns. They won’t come back because “there are jobs there as well. Right now is not like in the past, when finding a job was difficult.” As proof of employers’ desperation, the district of Shenzhen where Luo works is plastered with recruitment notices, some promising “High Pay for Urgent Hire.”
It’s not just in China’s big cities where wages are rising fast. In the countryside, where small factories are popping up, per capita net income jumped 10.9 percent in 2010, to 5,919 yuan, according to a National Bureau of Statistics of China report in January. “Rural migrant workers’ wages are now rising faster than ever before, and we can probably talk about a wage explosion here,” Jonathan Anderson, chief economist for emerging markets at UBS (UBS) in Hong Kong, wrote on Feb. 3.
Full story here.