May 10, 2019 07:42 PM

Chart of the Day: Rural Migrant Worker Population Grows at Slowest Pace in 10 Years

China’s rural migrant worker population grew at a decade-long low last year.

The number of rural migrants working in China’s cities increased 0.64% year-on-year to 288.36 million in 2018, the lowest rate of growth in ten years, a new report (link in Chinese) from China’s National Bureau of Statistics shows.


China’s rapid urbanization may account for the slow growth, Lin Caiyi, chief economist with Hua An Fund Management Co. Ltd., said in a column for Caixin (link in Chinese). The number of people with a rural household registration, or “hukou” — which entitles people access to housing and local public services — has decreased by more than 10 million each year since 1998, which means more people are becoming “city residents” instead of “rural migrants,” she said.

Lin added that rising rents and population aging have driven many migrants back to their hometowns, while rapid growth in infrastructure and property investment in developing areas have acted as a pull factor.

According to the report, the number of rural workers who stayed in their home area increased 0.9% to 115.7 million on the previous year. Of those leaving, more chose to work in their home province where they have household registration — that number grew by 1.7% last year. Fewer workers left their home province to find jobs — the number dropped by 1.1%.

The rules on where people can register for their hukou have been relaxed in more cities in China. This means millions of people could potentially find it easier to get a hukou in the cities to which they’ve migrated for work in the future.

Contact reporter Gao Baiyu (

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