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China's migrant workers stay closer to home, causing labor crunch

More entering service sector; youths in particular prefer hometowns, gig work

Chinese migrant workers board a chartered bus on Jan. 29 in Guizhou province's Danzhai county.    © Getty Images

Official data revealed a decline in Chinese migrants working outside their home provinces last year compared to 2021, while there was an increase in rural workers entering the service sector. The shifts have sparked concerns about a long-term labor shortage in the manufacturing sector.

More than 70 million migrants left their home provinces for employment in 2022, down 1% from the previous year, according to an annual report released by the National Bureau of Statistics in late April. In contrast, the number of migrants employed in their home provinces increased by 0.9% last year to 101.3 million.

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