Pandemic Cut Earnings of Almost One-Third of China's Rural Workers
Ma Xiaohua
DATE:  Jan 18 2021
/ SOURCE:  Yicai
Pandemic Cut Earnings of Almost One-Third of China's Rural Workers Pandemic Cut Earnings of Almost One-Third of China's Rural Workers

(Yicai Global) Jan. 18 -- Some 30 percent of workers in China's county-level labor market suffered a drop in wages after Covid-19 struck, a survey shows, indicating the huge impact of the pandemic on the country's grassroots labor market.

Of the respondents canvassed, 24.4 percent earned somewhat less than before the pandemic, while 6 percent experienced a great decline, a report the County Governance Research Center of Tsinghua University's School of Social Sciences, its Center for Social and Financial Studies and job-search site jointly published on Jan. 16 makes clear.

China has over 2,800 county-level units, whose population and area make up a respective 74 percent and 93 percent of the total. The county economy is thus key to China's economic development, and contributes about 53 percent to the country's gross domestic product.

The job security of workers in China's localities also declined, the study found, with 31.7 percent of respondents forced to resort to part-time work to make ends meet after the outbreak, and a marked increase in the proportion who changed jobs. Of those sampled who did not start their own businesses, over one-fifth were jobless at the time of the survey and half of these had no employment prospects. Another half had no wish to work.

The pandemic also greatly hit job-hunting by the unemployed, with recruitment generally weak among firms, said survey participant He Xiaobin, director of the County Governance Research Center. Recruiting also became more difficult and was beset with delays as a result of restrictions on movement and other factors, though over 90 percent of firms with recruitment needs either kept wages unchanged or even raised them.

Covid-19 boosted demand for new work and lifestyle modes and business models such as online entertainment, education and conferencing. Such sea changes are challenging for workers in China's counties, a group that is 44 years old on average and 80 percent of whose highest education level is junior or senior high school.

The coronavirus did indeed slam China's county economy, though the country managed to resume work and production well before others because of its strict prevention measures in the second half.

The government should finetune laws and regulations relating to the gig economy, strengthen career guidance and unemployment insurance for migrant workers, bolster labor skills training, and help small and micro businesses out of trouble as soon as possible with more active policy support in the post-pandemic era, the report urged.

Editors: Zhang Yushuo, Ben Armour, Xiao Yi

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Keywords:   County,Labor Market,Employment