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Labor shortage hits China's export base
A labor shortage in Guangdong province, China's main production and export center, has hit its labor- and service-intensive industries, officials said Wednesday.


The province, bordering Hong Kong, is facing a shortage of about 800,000 workers, said a spokesman with the province's department of human resources and social security, the official Xinhua news agency reported.


The labor shortage comes at a time when the world's second largest economy, heavily dependent on exports, has seen its growth slow due to declining external demand.


The spokesman said industries hit by the labor shortage include textile, catering and shoe-making. Industrial upgrades will only worsen the shortage of technical workers in the future, the spokesman said.


Guangdong reportedly accounts for a third of China's exports and such labor shortages are bound to adversely impact any effort to ramp up exports when demand picks up.


In January, provincial officials had said the labor shortage, a chronic problem that has plagued the country's southern manufacturing hub in recent years, would worsen this year.


China's economic growth is largely dependent on its more than 150 million migrant workers but there have been reports that such workers are increasingly seeking jobs closer to their hometowns because of lower costs of living and the desire to be with their families.

There have been efforts by the government to pay higher wages to the workers but that has not helped the labor shortage in China's coastal areas with their high concentrations of industries.


Wages for the migrant workers increased 19 percent in 2008 and 16 percent in 2009.


The labor shortage problem will also affect China's efforts to boost domestic demand to reduce reliance on exports.

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