From The New York Times:
It's astounding that there are labor shortage this year whereas last year after the Chinese New Year there were as many as twenty million migrants without work. China's economy is incredibly nimble and fluid.
GUANGZHOU, China — Just a year after laying off millions of factory workers, China is facing an increasingly acute labor shortage.
As American workers struggle with near double-digit unemployment, unskilled factory workers here in China’s industrial heartland are being offered signing bonuses.
Factory wages have risen as much as 20 percent in recent months.
Telemarketers are turning away potential customers because recruiters have fully booked them to cold-call people and offer them jobs.
Some manufacturers, already weeks behind schedule because they can’t find enough workers, are closing down production lines and considering raising prices. Such increases would most likely drive up the prices American consumers pay for all sorts of Chinese-made goods.
Rising wages could also lead to greater inflation in China. In the past, inflation has sown social unrest.
The immediate cause of the shortage is that millions of migrant workers who traveled home for the long lunar New Year earlier this month are not returning to the coast. Thanks to a half-trillion-dollar government stimulus program, jobs are being created in the interior.
But many economists say the recent global downturn also obscured a longer-term trend: China has drained its once vast reserves of unemployed workers in rural areas and is running out of fresh laborers for its factories.
China's response to the economic crisis has, if nothing else, kept its wheels spinning. Their response is probably creating housing bubbles, over-developing commercial real-estate, and causing a number of other unforeseen issues, but they're at least doing something. I hate to go all Thomas Friedman and espouse the virtues of one-party rule, but China is not experiencing the gridlock that the polarized US is. And during these turbulent economic times, that is worth a lot.
The work shortages highlighted in the article above relate back to the post I made a few days ago. China's economy is no longer so coastal-focused. The opportunities for migrants used to be largely centered in cities like Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and other boom towns along the coast. More and more though, there are increasing opportunities on the interior of the country.
With low-level employees having more power and money, this article states that inflation and higher prices of goods are possible. Whatever the macro-economic hiccups could be, I see migrants having more choice and opportunity in their work as a good thing. The migrants of China perform back-breaking, monotonous labor far, far away from their home towns for very little money. I'm all for them having the chance to make a little more money, have, possibly, better working conditions, and live better lives.