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Cities offer more low-paying jobs

China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-17 08:19

A clerk counts cash at a bank in Huaibei, Anhui province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

With 13.52 million new urban jobs created in 2019 and the registered urban unemployment rate being 3.62 percent at the end of last year, China's employment situation is stable, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security officials said at a recent news conference.

The ministry also published a list of 10 most-wanted jobs: marketing personnel, cashiers, waiters, security guards, cleaners, merchandise salespersons, domestic maids, lathe operators, welders, and loading and unloading porters. Although these jobs don't require high-level special skills, they are the most wanted because the low wages they offer prompt people employed in such sectors to seek higher-paying jobs and thus create new vacancies.

In recent years, unable to afford the high cost of living in first-tier cities, many migrant laborers have chosen to return to their hometowns, increasing the demand for workers ready to take up low-wage jobs.

Given the rising aging population and the inability of many migrant laborers to get urban hukou (household registration), it is becoming increasingly difficult for the service sector in first-and second-tier cities to meet its labor demands by hiring the available workers. Job opportunities exist in cities but offer low pay, which is not enough to take care of the rising living costs, such as housing prices and rents.

In developed countries, the average pay for blue-collar jobs is usually not vastly different from the overall average salary; in fact, in some industries the average pay for blue-collar workers is more than that for some white-collar workers. However in China, the gap in pay between the two is wide and continues to widen.

The demand for low-paying jobs and the availability of workers is an important problem the government must address. It should frame policies that can make it easier for migrant laborers to get urban hukou. In the short term, it can strengthen vocational training and employment services, but in the long run, it has to solve the structural problems in the job market.

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