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whether these migrant manufacturing workers and their earnings get picked up in the TVE manufacturing data.

It is reasonable to assume that TVE manufacturing employment and earnings data usually include the migrant manufacturing workers in towns and rural areas. The reason is that, because of the much lower ratio of social insurance costs in towns and rural areas, there is almost no incentive to leave these workers out of the data in those areas, in contrast to the situation in cities, where the higher ratio of social insurance costs affords a financial incentive to exclude migrant workers. There is no separate reporting of the earnings of migrant manufacturing workers either in the cities or outside urban areas.

Manufacturing earnings over time

One of the many goals of this research project for the US Bureau of Labor Statistics was to derive a time series of hourly manufacturing labor compensation for China for the period 1990-2002, if possible. If it is not possible to present such a series for all manufacturing employees in China, then a time series of real earnings or total compensation of some subgroup of manufacturing workers would still be useful.

This article has shown that it is a major challenge just to estimate hourly manufacturing labor compensation for China in one recent year. The only reasons that this is even possible for the year 2002 are:

  • a)

    For the year 2002, the Agriculture Ministry released for the first time figures on the total number of China TVE manufacturing workers and the total amount of earnings paid out to them during the year.

  • b)

    The Labor Ministry carried out a large survey of city enterprises for the year 2002 and published a book that included data on actual labor costs in urban manufacturing units above and beyond reported earnings (see Glossary and Definitions: China labor force market wage survey”).

  • c)

    This author, after much searching, was fortunate to even locate the above volumes of information, but has not found such information for prior years.

Because these data are not available for previous years, the creation of a defensible time series of manufacturing labor compensation in China for 1990-2002 is not possible until and unless such data are released, if they were even collected.

Most of the data in this article relate to the year 2002 only. Although it would be revealing to analyze trends in manufacturing earnings over several years, the data required to construct such series over time are sparse. Published data on earnings trends for the manufacturing sector are available solely for urban manufacturing staff and workers. Table 10 presents published information on annual percent changes in average real earnings for this subset of city manufacturing employees. Real living standards have been rising in China’s cities, and real earnings have been rising for urban staff and workers in manufacturing.139 The “staff and worker” component of urban manufacturing workers is supposed to include manufacturing workers who migrated into cities from rural areas, but the rising wages indicated in table 10 probably exclude data on the earnings of most rural-to-urban migrant manufacturing workers.140 Reported urban


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