BEIJING (Reuters) - About 20 million Chinese rural migrants have lost jobs as the nation's economic growth has faltered, a senior official said on Monday, promising policies to boost incomes and a softer approach to potential unrest.
Chen Xiwen, director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, told a news conference that a recent survey showed 15.3 percent of the 130 million migrants moving from villages to cities and factories had returned jobless to the countryside.
Adding this year's 6 to 7 million new entrants into the rural labor market, Chen added, China will this year have about 25 million jobless and potentially restive rural unemployed.
Yiping Huang, chief Asia economist for Citigroup, said even that number could double if government stimulus plans fail to offset slowed exports and general gloom.
"It is a big number coming from an official source but a lot of people are expecting even bigger numbers," Huang said of Chen's estimate.
"These are pretty difficult to check reliably, but people are talking about 30 or 40 million eventually."
China has about 750 million people in its countryside -- more than the combined populations of the United States and European Union -- and their incomes and willingness to spend will be crucial to government efforts to boost domestic consumption.Read the whole article