CHINA: 12 million to lose jobs

Daniel F. Vukovich vukovich at
Sat Jan 15 11:46:19 PST 2000

At 03:00 PM 1/12/00 +1100, you wrote:
>I'm assuming that the urban unemployment rate is quite different to the
>overall unemployment rate, and that the registration of 'internal migrants'
>from rural areas rather muffles that calculation of official urban
>unemployment. Is that right? That, plus the linking of welfare to
>previous employment...

Sorry so late, Angela, and here I am without accurate figures, which do not in fact exist, as far as I can tell; there are official gov't ones (which the WBank et al reproduce verbatim), but there are other ones which seem to come from Hong Kong, usually from somewhat dodgy human rights and "democracy" types, but also from critical activists and scholars. (Steve P. has mentioned Raymond Lau in this context; the magazine October Review is another possible source) Not having any Chinese is of course yet another problem. I'll see what I can dig up.

You are quite right above. The official urban unemployment rates are a joke, not least b/c these do not take into acount those workers *laid off* ("Temporarily unemployed"-- fired, but prevented from registering as unemployed). This is a much larger category than the former. Combined, this must be upwards of 70 million, but I'd have to dig to verify this (in fact I just briefly tried but my office is a mess-- if Steve P feels like it, he can make a better educated guess than I, I suspect).

And as you suggest, neither of these categories accounts for "internal migrants" from the countryside. Nationally, there is a floating (deracinated) population of 100-120 million. I dont think this is a controversial figure, but perhaps I'm wrong. This doesnt include rural poor or rural workers who are "fixed" in place. (A/c to the WBank, there are at least 200 milliion living in poverty overall).

This may not be of much help! I'm going to email someone and query them for reasonable figures. Cant help but feel "we" know enough to figure that WTO is a really horrid idea for Chinese workers and "peasants." Have read things from Party-sponsored economists saying the predicted effect on agriculture (100 million "drifters" or migrants) will be a good thing, b/c it will "correct" the "imbalanced" and "over -populated" work-force in the countryside. A lot of this ongoing history or development is reminiscent of Marx's stuff on enclosure and exporpriation (though chase it further, and maybe less so). But, alas, without that telos towards radical proletarianization in the urban centers. BUt that is a whole different topic.

Best, --Dan

> Any idea what the unofficial and overall
>unemployment rate might be?

------------------------------------------------------ Daniel F. Vukovich Dept. of English; The Unit for Criticism University of Illinois Urbana, IL 61801 ------------------------------------------------------

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