Growth in China’s domestic migrant workforce stagnant in 2019

07, May. 2020

Yunnan Province, China (Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash)
Yunnan Province, China (Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash)

TOKYO, NNA – The number of internal migrant workers in China barely grew last year as people among the large floating population found more jobs near home and prefer to stay with families.

Migrant worker headcounts grew 0.8 percent in 2019 from a year earlier to 290.77 million, according to National Bureau of Statistics figures.

In 2018, the total increased just 0.6 percent, the lowest since statistics became available in 2009. Growth in the number of migrant workers has slowed over the past 10 years, bureau data show.


Migrants are classified in official data as people working outside agriculture and away from their hometowns for six months or longer.

Last year, the number of migrants working outside their home provinces dropped 1.1 percent to 75.08 million, the April 30 dataset shows. Those who migrated to jobs in their own provinces but outside their hometowns rose 2.5 percent to 99.17 million, per the bureau’s data.

Rural people are finding more jobs in inland provinces that are developing along with China’s economic growth. Elders in the countryside hope children born under the one-child policy from 1979 through 2015 can stay close to home.

The number of migrant workers is expected to decline for the first time this year in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak that erupted in late December. Stay-home orders during the epidemic stopped workers from migrating to job sites after the prolonged Lunar New Year holiday that began in late January.