China’s bureau of statistics published the latest migrant workers’ report in late April.

Migrant workers are the crucial contributors to the growth of China’s manufacturing and services industries, but the majority of them have yet to be able to live a decent life or receive their legally entitled rights and benefits. USi has excerpted the key numbers from the report to give readers a general picture of their living condition, labour rights violations as well as the areas of improvements in 2014.

    • The total number of migrant workers in 2014 is 274 million, up 1.9% from 2013. But the growth rate has been falling since 2010 (with 5.4% growth rate).
    • The average monthly income of migrant workers was 2,864 yuan (304 pounds), up 9.8% from 2013. The industries that bring fastest salary increases are manufacturing, construction, and resident services.
    • 23.8% of migrant workers received education of senior high school or above, up 1% from 2013. 34.8% received vocational training, up 2.1% from 2013.
    • 42.9% of migrant workers worked in the tertiary/services industry, up 0.3% from 2013. 56.6% worked in the secondary/manufacturing industry, down 0.2%.
    • Over 2 million migrant workers had wage arrears in 2014, with the average wage arrears at 9,511 yuan (1010 pounds), up 17.1% from 2013. The construction industry remained the sector that has the highest frequency of wage arrears.
    • The ratio of migrant workers who choose to rent over staying in company dormitories is rising. 37% of migrant workers chose to rent, while only 1% of migrant workers chose to buy a home at the city where they work.
    • Migrant workers aged 21-30 took up 30.2% of the total workforce, followed by workers aged 41-50 (26.4%) and workers aged 31-40 (22.8%). While the ratio of migrant workers aged below 40 kept declining, the ratio of workers aged over 50 (17.1%) kept rising from 2010 (12.9%).
    • 164 million migrant workers worked in the eastern region, up 1.6% from 2013; 58 million worked in the middle region, up 1.6%; 51 million worked in the western region, up 4.1%.
    • The average monthly living expenditure of migrant workers who worked outside of their household registered town was 944 yuan (100 pounds) in 2014, up 5.8% from 2013. The average monthly living cost for them was 445 yuan, down 1.8%. The living cost accounts for 47.1% of total living expenditure.
    • 62% of migrant workers did not have labour contracts with employers in 2014.
    • 40.8% of migrant workers worked over 8 hours per day. 85.4% worked over 44 hours per month.
    • Only 26% of migrant workers had work injury insurance; only 17.6% had medical insurance; only 16.7% had pension, 10.5% had unemployment insurance, 7.8% had maternity insurance, and 5.5% had housing insurance. Industry wise, workers at the manufacturing sector had the highest insurance coverage rate, while workers at the construction sector had the lowest.

Note: The term migrant workers in this report refers to workers whose household registry is in the countryside and who work in non-farming sector or outside their household registered town for no less than six months.

For the original report in Chinese, please click here.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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Jennifer Zhang

Jennifer Zhang is USi’s China coordinator based in Hong Kong.

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