With No Jobs, China's Rural Exodus Retracting

More than 20 million Chinese who had migrated to cities for work have been forced to return to the rural countryside as urban jobs dry up.

"The figure - greater than the population of Australia - is double a previous official estimate and will heighten the concerns of the Chinese authorities about maintaining stability. It came a day after the government warned that 2009 would be "possibly the toughest year" for economic development in China since the turn of the century."

"Chen Xiwen, director at the Office of the Central Leading Group on Rural Work, told a news conference that a government survey showed that 15.3% of an estimated 130 million rural migrants to the cities had returned home jobless. Adding in new entrants to the rural labour market gave a total of around 26 million unemployed and potentially restive people in the countryside. Some economists believe this is an underestimate and say the real figure could ultimately reach 40 million."

Full Story: Downturn in China leaves 26 million out of work

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