China’s rural migrant workers got an average pay increase of around 21 percent last year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on 29 April.
The average monthly wage for the estimated 159 million rural migrant workers employed away from their home area increased by 359 yuan to reach 2,049 yuan. Similar rates of increase were seen across China, with wages in the traditional manufacturing heartland of the eastern coastal provinces increasing by 21 percent to 2,053 yuan, while wages increased to 2,006 yuan on average in the central regions, and 1,990 yuan in the west.
The National Bureau of Statistics report clearly showed that migrant workers are increasingly finding employment away from the eastern coastal regions as the economies of the hinterland develop more rapidly.
Employment growth for migrant workers in the western regions stood at 8.1 percent in 2011, and reached 9.6 percent in the central regions. By contrast, employment growth in the Yangtze and Pearl River delta regions was relatively stagnant, increasing by 0.3 percent and one percent respectively.
However the big four coastal provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shandong still employed nearly half of all China’s migrant workers in 2011, whereas the central and western regions employed just 17.6 percent and 16.7 percent respectively. While the trend is towards more employment in central and western China, it is still in the early stages and it will be several years before those inland provinces can fully catch up with the east in terms of overall wage levels and job opportunities.