Give migrant workers their due

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-16 13:39
Large Medium Small

National Bureau of Statistics data show the consumer price index, a key measure of inflation, rose to a 28-month high of 5.1 percent in November. And inflation has been rising because of rising labor cost, says an article in Jinghua Times. Excerpts:

Many people believe prices are rising faster in China than in other countries. But this is not true.

Thanks to migrant workers, China still has the incomparable advantage of low labor cost. This has helped keep the prices of goods and services comparatively low in China. But migrant workers' income barely meets the minimum wage level seen in urban areas.

True, the average income of migrant workers has increased in recent years.

But the rapid, rather alarming, increase in living costs in urban areas has more than neutralized the increase in their wages.

Besides, migrant workers still cannot obtain hukou (house registration) in a city. That leaves them with only one option: to return home to the countryside.

But once a large number of such workers leave the cities, there will be a labor shortage that in turn will increase labor cost. Worse, since the national birth rate has fallen in recent years, China may not have as many workers in the future.

Therefore, the government should implement favorable policies for migrant workers that will enable them to stay in urban areas.