A job fair in Fuzhou, Fujian province. (Photo/Xinhua)
Labor shortages in China following the Lunar New Year holidays are affecting not only coastal manufacturing provinces but also inland regions. Another strange phenomenon is difficulty of some service sector businesses such as dining, sales outlets and security in recruiting non-technical workers, as many workers born after 1990 prefer to work near their hometowns.
The website of Guangzhou's 21st Century Business Herald reports that the mindset of farmers-turned-workers, who in the past were prepared to seek manufacturing jobs from their homes, has undergone a major change. Many now are unwilling to work so far away from home, thereby aggravating the labor shortage in many regions.
According to a study by the country's National Bureau of Statistics, the number of migrant workers from rural areas has been decreasing in recent years. In 2011, the number of migrant workers dropped by 2.44 million. At present, over half of farmers-turned-workers in Sichuan province, formerly a major source of migrant workers, no longer leave the province for work.
This trend has aggravated labor shortages in coastal areas. Guangzhou's municipal human resources and social security bureau reported on Feb. 18 that the labor shortfall in the southern city reached 110,000 persons following the recent Lunar New Year holidays, adding that over 80% of local enterprises are urgently seeking to recruit.
The problem has spread to inland cities such as Wuhan, Yichang, Xi'an, Mianyang and Nanchang, forcing employers in both coastal and inland areas to raise pay levels by an average of 10%. In stark contrast to the situation in the past, many businesses in the service sector have experienced difficulty finding even unskilled workers.
Analysts attribute the shortage to a fundamental change in the labor structure. People born after 1990, the so-called post-90s, have become the major demographic seeking jobs in urban areas, replacing people born in 1970s or 1980s, and are often averse to the dirt and hard graft of factory work, while also eschewing service sector jobs, such as waiting in restaurants, due to the lack of opportunity for promotion.
"Young people want to browse the internet, work in an air-conditioned working environment and have sufficient leisure time for dating and recreation," grumbled one restaurant owner.