【英语中国】劳动力缺乏是中国近期劳资纠纷成因?

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2010-6-20 00:43

小艾摘要: What's behind the latest spate of labor unrest in China?Demographics, says Stephen Green, the chief China economist for Standard Chartered Bank.In a research note, Green says the number of entrants t ...
What's behind the latest spate of labor unrest in China?

Demographics, says Stephen Green, the chief China economist for Standard Chartered Bank.

In a research note, Green says the number of entrants to China's workforce has been falling for the past few years. He deduces this from education statistics that show the effects of China's one-child family policy, introduced in the late 1970s, rippling through the school system. Primary school enrollment hit a peak in 1994 and has been falling ever since; secondary school enrollment peaked in 2003; applications for the college entrance 'gao kao' exam peaked in 2008. It stands to reason that the same dynamics are at work in the labor market.

These demographic trends, on top of strong economic growth and job creation over the past 20 years, mean that surplus labor in the countryside has now been more or less fully absorbed.

The result is upward pressure on wages (pay in the manufacturing sector has been rising by 5-10% each year since 2003, except last year).

Recent demands for higher pay in factories along the coast have been further fuelled by a booming economy since the middle of last year, linked to the stimulus, and a shift in manufacturing to central and western China, making workers more reluctant to travel long distances to find work.

Green is not alone in seeing an end to China's labor surplus: A Reuters news column Thursday made similar points, talking of a turning point in China's massive supply of cheap labor. http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2010/06/17/china-hits-a-welcome-turning-point/

However, Louis Kuijs, senior economist at the World Bank in Beijing, isn't sure China has reached such a point yet. 'I would find it hard to believe China's surplus labor has already dried up,' he told reporters Friday. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704289504575313580184760788.html

To be sure, Green is reluctant to declare the end of cheap labor in China. After all, he notes, tens of millions of manufacturing workers still make only 1,500 yuan ($220) a month, roughly 5% of what their U.S. counterparts earn.

So what does all this mean for companies operating in China? According to Green, continued average annual pay increases of 5-10%; escalating pressure to comply with legal requirements on social security (and labor troubles for firms that resist); a more rapid push inland; faster mechanization to improve worker productivity.

Green isn't too worried about inflation - so long as wage growth broadly tracks GDP expansion.

中国最近发生一系列劳资纠纷,原因何在?

在于人口因素──渣打银行(Standard Chartered Bank)首席中国经济学家王志浩(Stephen Green)如是说。

王志浩在一份研究报告中说,在过去几年,中国劳动人口的新增数量一直在下降。他是从教育统计数据推导出这个结论的,因为中国在上世纪70年代末推出独生子女政策,连带影响到教育系统,其效果在教育统计数据中得到了反映。小学入学人数在1994年达到顶峰,此后一直下降;中学入学人数在2003年触顶,高考申请人数在2008年触顶。有理由说,劳动力市场也存在同样的机理。

由于这些人口统计上的趋势,加上过去20年强劲的经济增长和就业创造,农村地区的过剩劳动力到目前为止已经或多或少地被全部吸纳。

其结果就是工资压力上升。除了去年以外,2003年以来的制造业工资水平每年都上升5%到10%。

近期沿海工厂工人要求加薪,背后的推动因素还包括去年年中以来经济繁荣(跟刺激政策有关),以及制造业向中西部地区转移,使工人更不愿背井离乡地到外地去找工作。

不仅王志浩,其他一些人也看到了中国劳动力过剩的终结。路透社(Reuters)周四的一篇新闻专栏得出类似的结论,谈到中国廉价劳动力的大规模供应出现了拐点。

但世界银行(World Bank)驻北京高级经济学家高路易(Louis Kuijs)不太肯定中国是不是已经走到了这样一个拐点。他在周五对媒体记者说,说中国的过剩劳动力供应已经枯竭,我会觉得难以相信。

当然,王志浩不愿意宣布中国廉价劳动力时代已告终结。他指出,毕竟有数千万的制造业工人每月工资只有1,500元(合220美元),大概是美国制造业工人月工资的5%。

那么对于在中国经营的公司来说,这一切都意味着什么?据王志浩说,意味着工资将继续以平均每年5%到10%的速度上涨;遵守社保法律规定的压力越来越大(不遵守的公司,其劳资矛盾也会越来越大);往内地迁徙的速度越来越快;为提高生产率,机械化水平提升得越来越快。

王志浩对通货膨胀不是特别担心──只要工资增长大体上能跟随国内生产总值的增长步伐。

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