Oct 29, 2020 06:37 AM

Manufacturing Workers in High Demand as Consumption Revives

China’s registered urban unemployment rate stood at 5.6% by the end of September.
China’s registered urban unemployment rate stood at 5.6% by the end of September.

China’s job market is getting back on its feet as factories across the country return to operation with the Covid-19 pandemic largely under control. Rising consumption toward year-end is expected to create higher demand for manufacturing workers, analysts said.

Five of the top 15 occupations facing the worst labor shortages in the third quarter were manufacturing-related, reflecting rising demand as the economy rebounds from the pandemic, according to a survey published by a research unit affiliated with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Compared with the second quarter, 19 more manufacturing-related jobs faced labor shortages during the third quarter, including those in mechanical equipment, electronic parts and auto parts, according to the survey.

Occupations related to disease control and public health care faced less of a labor shortage, reflecting the waning outbreak. 

The quarterly report was based on recruitment data from 102 job service institutions across China. It was published by China Employment Training Technical Instruction Center.

The changing job market is in line with China’s industrial sector revival. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that profits in China’s manufacturing sector grew 1.1% year-on-year, returning to positive territory. Manufacturing of mechanical equipment, computers, telecom and other electronic gear expanded the fastest, by more than 10%, according to the bureau.

Government data showed that fixed-asset investment in manufacturing maintained positive growth for two consecutive months in August and September, indicating recovering market confidence.

The Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which gives an independent snapshot of the country’s manufacturing sector, also indicated a healthy post-pandemic recovery in September with a reading of 53. A number above 50 signals expansion.

Driving the manufacturing revival is the gradual recovery of public consumption. China’s September social retail sales rose 3.3%, following 0.5% growth in August, the first positive monthly reading this year, according to NBS data.

As merchants prepare for the biggest sales season toward year-end, manufacturers have picked up the pace of production and expanded recruitment.

Zhang Erda, general manager of a Hangzhou-based garment company, said orders placed by merchants on Alibaba Group’s Tmall marketplace rose 300% this year in advance of the Double 11 online shopping extravaganza Nov. 11. Factories are competing to add new production lines and hire workers, Zhang said.

Wang Huan, a manager at a textile company in Hebei, said his plant is operating three shifts a day to keep production lines running 24 hours and faces a shortage of workers.

Demand to fill key manufacturing jobs began reviving in May after nearly three months of stalled business. Demand for blue-collar workers surged 60% year-on-year in September, said Jiang Peng, president of recruitment company Zhimao Human Resources Co. Ltd.

Wages for factory workers also increased amid rising labor demand, surpassing graduate salaries in some places, Jiang said.

According to the NBS, China’s registered urban unemployment rate stood at 5.4% by the end of September. The number of rural migrant workers who left their hometowns for jobs totaled 180 million at the end of September, 2 million more than at the end of June.

Contact reporter Han Wei ( and editor Bob Simison (

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