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Number of migrant workers in China 2019

In 2019, there were approximately 290.77 million migrant workers in China. Around 117 million of them were local migrant workers, working in the vicinity of their place of home, while 99 million worked at more distant places in their home province and 75 million had left the province and worked in regions far away.

Migrant workers in China

The total number of migrant workers in China has been increasing steadily over the years. In 2019, migrant workers in China accounted for more than 20 percent of the total population and roughly 35 percent of the Chinese labor force. It is worth noting that nearly half of migrant workers left their hometowns without their families. In terms of education, the majority of migrant workers in China are moderately educated, i.e. less than 17 percent of them did not get to finish middle school. Migrant workers contribute significantly to China’s urbanization and modernization. Roughly 27 percent of them were employed in the manufacturing industry in 2019, and nearly 19 percent in the construction sector.

Wages and employment

There has been a considerable rise in the average monthly income of migrant workers in recent years, which reached 3,721 yuan in 2018 – nearly three times as much as in 2008. However, migrant workers are still not being treated equally. At least the share of migrant workers who did not receive their wages on time has decreased significantly from 4.1 percent in 2008 to less than 1 percent in recent years. This is only a small improvement, though, since unemployment is quite high among migrant workers: In 2012, some 7.7 percent of migrant workers were registered as unemployed in western China, a percentage much higher than the national unemployment rate of approximately 4 percent.

Number of migrant workers in China from 2009 to 2019

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Release date

April 2020



Survey time period

2009 to 2019

Supplementary notes

The data have been collected through a survey which covered around 226,000 rural workers from 31 provinces, 1,587 districts and 8,490 villages. Migrant laborers are defined as workers that are still registered as rural permanent residents, but have left their place of origin for more than six months in order to find work in another place. They either stay in the same province or move to another province in search of work.

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Statistics on "Migrant workers in China"

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