workers. The category of on-post urban manufacturing staff and workers was dropping by about 2½ million from 1995 to 1996 and again from 1998 to 1999. If we were to assume that the trend was continuous from 1995 to 1999, then we would see the following approximate numbers in the staff and worker category: 52.3 million in 1995, 49.7 million in 1996, 47 million in 1997, 44.5 million in 1998, and 42 million in 1999. Instead, the reported 1998 figure was 37.7 million. Therefore, about 7 million workers were dropped from the category between 1997 and 1998, in addition to those workers dropped due to the known definitional shift from including laid-off workers in employment figures to excluding them.
Now consider again the trends in China’s manufacturing employment based on official data, keeping in mind the unexplained loss of 7 million manufacturing workers from the numbers up through 1997 to the figures for 1998 and thereafter. In 1995, on the basis of official data, China had 96 million on-post manufacturing workers, and the numbers were dropping through 1997. The reported 1998 official national total was 83 million. If the inexplicably missing 7 million are added back in, then perhaps the total was really 90 million, although that figure still signifies a significant drop in manufacturing employment from 1995 to 1998. By yearend 2000, the reported total was 80.4 million (but the true number could have been more than 87 million if the missing workers were included). No matter how the official data are adjusted, China’s total manufacturing employment dropped by around 8.5 million or more from 1995 to 2000. The official total then rose by 2.6 million from yearend 2000 to 2002. So the net loss of manufacturing jobs in China during 1995-2002 was about 6 million. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the trend of declining manufacturing employment in China was apparently reversed after the year 2000.
Below the national level, official figures for rural manufacturing employment rose until 1995-96 and stabilized from 1995 through 1999, thereafter rising every year since 1999. Therefore, on the basis of the official series, all the declines in China’s manufacturing employment in the late 1990s happened in urban areas. Many who lost their jobs were laid off while still receiving basic living subsidies from their enterprises, and many others were subjected to mandatory early retirement. Some manufacturing workers in urban China have also become fully recognized as unemployed.19 Of the yearend-2002 registered unemployed urban workers who were previously employed (2.17 million), 41 percent had lost manufacturing jobs.20 This reduction in the workforce implies that 0.89 million former urban manufacturing workers were classified as unemployed as of the end of 2002.
Apparently, then, manufacturing employment in China increased vigorously until 1995, declined from that year to 2000, and has risen again since then, regardless of whether the reported data come from the Labor Ministry and the NBS or whether the data are adjusted for changes in coverage or definition. Urban state-owned and collective- owned manufacturing enterprises have lost most of their employed workers since the early 1990s, as shown in table 1. Most of their former workers have been laid off, fired, subjected to early retirement, or retained by their enterprise after it was sold, was privatized, or became a joint Chinese-foreign company in the decade from 1992 to 2002. Meanwhile, rural manufacturing employment reportedly has continued to increase, and in urban areas, manufacturing employment in the category of other ownership units grew rapidly during that decade. This category includes manufacturing enterprises with joint