Labor shortages in the southern province of Guangdong are expected to worsen after Spring Festival.
The labor shortfall is expected to reach between 1 million and 1.2 million, as a large number of migrant workers have returned home for family reunions, according to Guangdong Human Resources and Social Security Department on Thursday.
Guangdong, where a number of foreign-funded companies, joint ventures and privately run firms are located, normally has a shortage of about 400,000 workers, labor authorities said.
More than 10 million migrant workers, or 61 percent of the total in Guangdong, will leave the province known as the "world's factory", to return home for the Lunar New Year.
Ninety percent of those workers have expressed a wish to return after the festival.
Labor demand from Guangdong's companies will grow this year because of the province's steady economic growth, authorities said.
Guangdong companies' labor demands have increased by 15.2 percent compared with the end of 2011, according to the provincial department of human resources and social security.
Ou Zhenzhi, director of the department, said many companies in Guangdong will suffer labor shortages in the short term, because the companies attracted orders at the beginning of the calendar year, but most of their workers have returned home for Spring Festival.
He urged government departments to make efforts to monitor the labor shortage situation and do what they can to protect the rights of migrant workers.
Ou said his department is considering further raising the minimum wage and improving the work and living conditions of migrant workers, to help ease the labor shortage.
"The rise in minimum wage will help make Guangdong a more appealing destination for migrant workers from around the country," Ou said, declining to reveal details on the rise in minimum wages.
"We are conducting research and working out the plans (for the minimum monthly salary adjustments)," Ou said at a news conference this week during the annual session of the province's legislative body.
Insiders estimated the province's minimum wage hike will be around 10 percent this year.
Currently the minimum wage in Guangzhou, capital of the province, is around 1,300 yuan ($210) per month.
Jiang Jingfa, a senior executive from Guangzhou Genox Recycling Technological Corp, said he felt it was more difficult to recruit new staff this year.
"The average monthly salaries of my workers has reached about 4,500 yuan, but I will have to provide about a 10 percent raise in salaries to retain skillful workers this year," he said.
Yao Shiju, who runs a paperboard factory in Foshan's Nanhai district, said the increase in workers' wages and further improvement of their welfare and treatment are essential to recruit new employees and appease the old ones.
"I will adjust the workers' salaries after the Lunar New Year," he said.
"Many companies in Nanhai district that used to offer meager salaries to workers have closed down because they failed to recruit enough workers," Yao added.
Chen Xiaozhen, a migrant worker from Sichuan province, said the current minimum salary in Guangdong is not the highest on the mainland.
"Many migrant workers choose to leave Guangdong when they find it difficult to afford the rising cost of living because of their low incomes in the province," she said.
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