Labor force in China 2008-2018

After reaching a record high in 2016, China’s labor force shrank to around 805.67 million people in 2018. A country’s labor force is defined as the total number of employable people and incorporates both the employed and the unemployed population. The share of the population participating in the labor market in China also decreased over the past years, reaching about 68 percent in 2018.

Population challenges for China

One of the reasons for the shrinking labor force is the Chinese one-child policy, which had been in effect for nearly 40 years, until it was revoked in 2016. The controversial policy was intended to improve people’s living standards and optimize resource distribution through controlling the size of China’s expanding population. Nonetheless, the policy also led to negative impacts on the labor market, pension system and other societal aspects. Today, China is becoming an aging society. The increase of elderly people and the lack of young people will become one of the biggest challenges for China in this century.

Employment in China

Despite the slowing down of economic growth, China’s unemployment rate has sustained a relatively low rate. Complete production chains and a well-educated labor force make China’s labor market one of the most attractive in the world. Working conditions and salaries in China have also improved significantly over the past years. Due to China’s leading position in terms of talent in the technology industry, the country is now attracting investment from some of the world’s leading companies in the high-tech sector.

Labor force in China from 2008 to 2018

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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period

2008 to 2018

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Statistics on "Population in China"

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