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1978. The available data also reflect China’s attempts to make its economic statistics more internationally comparable. Recent employment statistics are pieced together primarily from annual enterprise data. Each enterprise, economic unit, small business, or self-employed individual or group is supposed to report employment data each year according to its “labor situation” in the previous year and at the previous year’s end. The data are then compiled upward in a statistical reporting chain to the national government.

Enterprise data refer to who is working in what kind of work at the end of the relevant year (end of December). The urban enterprise statistical reporting form that is required to be submitted to authorities early in a calendar year and that refers to the previous calendar year asks enterprises for the “labor situation” (in particular, for the “actual situation that year”)--and specifically for the numbers of each category of workers at the end of the previous year.4 Accountants or those who report employment and wage figures on behalf of their enterprises or other work units (at least those enterprises or other work units in urban areas) are given detailed instructions on how to report monthly, quarterly, yearend, and annual average figures on employment and wages. The instructions are based on regulations released by China’s NBS, especially in 1990 and with further clarifications in 1998 and 2002, regarding how to report employment and wages. 5

The annually reported figures on total manufacturing employment in China include all manufacturing employees: production workers, salaried workers, and supervisory workers. China does not show separate data for these groups of workers. Table 1 presents figures from China’s annual enterprise reporting system on the numbers of employed manufacturing workers in the country from 1978 through 2002, broken down into the various categories reported (described in the next section).

Structure of manufacturing employment

Chart 1 (based partly on table 1) displays the structure of China’s manufacturing employment at the end of 2002, the latest date for which enough statistics are currently available. China’s NBS and Labor Ministry published a figure of 83 million manufacturing employees in China, of whom 45 million were called rural and 38 million were classified as urban. But these data do not take full account of the 71 million town and village enterprise (TVE) manufacturing workers reported by the Ministry of Agriculture. The TVE category includes large factories in industrial parks outside cities, as well as suburban, town, and rural factories.6 On the basis of the reasonable assumption that the 38 million urban and 71 million TVE manufacturing employment categories are mutually exclusive, the total manufacturing employment at yearend 2002 was about 109 million, as shown in Chart 1. (This contradiction and its implications are addressed more fully later in the report.) Furthermore, there is evidence that the official figure of 83 million manufacturing workers excludes millions of migrant manufacturing workers. (See also later.)

Of the 38 million urban manufacturing employees at yearend 2002 indicated in Chart 1, 30 million were employed in so-called urban manufacturing units (danwei), and of these, 29 million were on-post (not laid-off or unemployed) staff and workers. Most of these urban manufacturing staff and workers (16 million) were employed by


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