China: Distribution of the workforce across economic sectors from 2003 to 2013 (in percent)

2003 49.1% 21.6% 29.3%
2004 46.9% 22.5% 30.6%
2005 44.8% 23.8% 31.3%
2006 42.6% 25.2% 32.2%
2007 40.8% 26.8% 32.4%
2008 39.6% 27.2% 33.2%
2009 38.1% 27.8% 34.1%
2010 36.7% 28.7% 34.6%
2011 34.8% 29.5% 35.7%
2012 33.6% 30.3% 36.1%
2013 31.4% 30.1% 38.5%
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The statistic shows the distribution of the workforce across economic sectors in China from 2003 to 2013. In 2011, 34.8 percent of the workforce were employed in agriculture, 29.5 percent in industry and 35.7 percent in services.

Distribution of workforce in China – additional information

In 2012, China was the largest exporting country worldwide with an export value of about two trillion U.S. dollars. China’s economic system is largely based on growth and export with the manufacturing sector being a crucial contributor to the country’s export competitiveness. Economic development was accompanied by a steady rise of labor costs, as well as a significant slowdown in labor force growth. These changes present a serious threat to the era of China as the world’s factory. The share of workforce in agriculture also steadily decreased in China, while the agricultural gross production value displayed continuous growth, amounting to approximately 4.7 trillion yuan in 2012. Since 2011, the majority of China’s labor force has been employed in the service sector. However, compared with developed countries, such as Japan or the United States where 69.7 and 81.2 percent of the work force were active in services in 2010 respectively, the proportion of people working in the tertiary industry in China has been relatively low. The new leadership elected by the National People’s Congress in March 2013 aims to continue economic reform by moving from an emphasis on investment to consumption, among other measures. This might lead to a stronger service economy. Meanwhile, the share of urban middle class in the total population in China skyrocketed from 3.6 percent in 2005 to 10.8 percent in 2010. A growing number of affluent middle class consumers could promote consumption and help China move towards a balanced economy.

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