Far more migrant workers have lost their jobs than has previously been stated. Chen Xiwen, a senior agriculture official who is director of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Rural Work, says 15.3% of China’s 130 million migrant workers had returned jobless from cities to the countryside, Xinhua reports. That adds up to 20 million and is about three times as many as has been reported before.
The figures were based on a survey by the agricultural ministry in 150 villages in 15 provinces, carried out ahead of New Year, Chen said. Many migrant workers would have had jobs in low-end export manufacturing, which is bearing the brunt of the economic slowdown. Chen also said that farmer’s net per capita income rose 8% in 2008, but it would likely slow this year, in part because of the influx of returning jobless migrant workers.