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Migrant workers increasingly seeking jobs closer to home in China

ChinaMigrant workers increasingly seeking jobs closer to home in China

In the early morning following Spring Festival, approximately 100 local companies congregated in a public square in Fuyang city, Anhui province, to recruit new employees. Among the job seekers was 43-year-old Liu Lei, who previously worked as an electric welder in Zhejiang but was now seeking a job close to home to take care of her two children. Fuyang is a significant source of migrant workers, with over a third of its 10.8 million population working throughout the country year-round. However, due to rising local incomes and the responsibility to care for elderly parents and young children, an increasing number of people, like Liu, are looking for work closer to home.

Wang Fang, who works at the human resource department at BYD, a top car manufacturer, remarked that many job seekers are keen to work and stay in the area. Four of the company’s business divisions attended the job fair, aiming to hire 1,000 workers for their new factory in the provincial capital, Hefei. This trend of working near home is increasing among migrant workers, some of whom have returned to their hometowns to start businesses after earning enough money and gaining experience working elsewhere. These new companies absorb surplus rural laborers and raise local incomes.

Fuyang has implemented various measures to support the desire of residents to return to work or become entrepreneurs. In 2020, an entrepreneurship park was established in the city’s economic development zone, providing low-cost operating sites for returnee entrepreneurs. It functions as an incubator and offers legal, financial, and human resources support, as described by Li Dandan, director of the park’s operations. Businessman Yu Liang founded a clothing company in the park in 2021, which now employs around 50 workers, and has since expanded from 3,000 square meters to 10,000 sq m. Many workers, like 43-year-old Yang Ping, earn almost as much as they would in more developed areas but can spend more time with their families as they only need to travel a short distance to work.

Over the last 16 years, more than 63,500 individuals have returned to Fuyang to set up their own businesses, creating 482,000 jobs. This trend of returnees is reflective of a broader trend in Anhui, where the number of rural migrant workers with jobs within the province increased from 8.4 million in 2013 to 11.7 million in 2021, as per data from the Department of Human Resources and Social Security of Anhui Province. In Baimao township, several companies are benefitting from the rise in people willing to work close to home, including a local shoe factory where returnee workers have eased pressure and increased production.

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