Yiwu Market Prices May Rise

08, Mar., 2010.

After closing several orders after returning from New Year holiday, I can see that Yiwu market may experience a price rise in the near future.

The main reason for this is labor shortage. Almost all shops told us that they were experiencing difficulties of hiring enough factory workers.

One of our saloon brushes supplier refused to help us with printing the tags. The reason was that they could not find enough people to do this. It’s “too much trouble”.

Another bags suppliers increased the sampling fee and postponed the delivery date. “Half of our workers still did not return”. One more bag supplier also put off the delivery date for 3 days. “Our master still not shown up”…

More and more factories now are not willing to cooperate with small and time-consuming orders.

So far, there is nothing clear to show that the factory workers will return to Yiwu quickly. It’s already 20 days passed The Spring Festival, as a tradition, factory workers should return to work after Yuanxiao Festival (the 15th day after Chinese New Year).

I’m really concerning about what’s going to happy at Yiwu market in the next few months.

Below is part of an article from The New York Times describing the current situation in China:

Just a year after laying off millions of factory workers, China is facing an increasingly acute labor shortage.

As American workers struggle with near double-digit unemployment, unskilled factory workers here in China’s industrial heartland are being offered signing bonuses.

Factory wages have risen as much as 20 percent in recent months. Telemarketers are turning away potential customers because recruiters have fully booked them to cold-call people and offer them jobs.

Some manufacturers, already weeks behind schedule because they can’t find enough workers, are closing down production lines and considering raising prices. Such increases would most likely drive up the prices American consumers pay for all sorts of Chinese-made goods.

Rising wages could also lead to greater inflation in China. In the past, inflation has sown social unrest.

The immediate cause of the shortage is that millions of migrant workers who traveled home for the long lunar New Year earlier this month are not returning to the coast. Thanks to a half-trillion-dollar government stimulus program, jobs are being created in the interior.

But many economists say the recent global downturn also obscured a longer-term trend: China has drained its once vast reserves of unemployed workers in rural areas and is running out of fresh laborers for its factories.

Since China does not release reliable, timely statistics on employment, wages are considered the best barometer of labor shortages. And temp agencies here in Guangzhou raised their rate for factory workers this week to $1.17 an hour, from 95 cents an hour before the new year holiday.

The rate was 80 cents an hour two years ago, before the global financial crisis temporarily depressed wages and demand. The dearth of returning migrants set off a desperate scramble this week to recruit the workers who did step off long-haul buses and trains returning from the interior.

At a government-run employment center in downtown Guangzhou, employers seeking workers outnumbered job-hunters Thursday afternoon.

Outside, Liang Huoqiao, a 22-year-old plastics worker, joined a small group of men and women studying a 40-foot-wide list of companies seeking workers.

“You can walk into any factory and get a job,” he said.

The official China Daily newspaper said on Thursday that surveys of employers showed that one in 12 migrant workers was not expected to return here to Guangdong Province.

Cities farther north along China’s coast are also running low on labor; Wenzhou alone posted a shortage of up to one million workers.

Guangdong provincial officials announced on Wednesday that they were considering increasing the minimum wage, which varies by city and ranges from $113 to $146 a month.

Higher wages could ease labor shortages by prompting factories to reduce their work forces.

But many factories already pay well above the minimum wage. They are wary of further pay increases because it is not certain they can pass the increased costs on to their customers — in particular, strapped importers in the United States and the European Union.

Rising wages suggest the re-emergence of a worker shortage that was becoming evident before the financial crisis.

A government survey three years ago of 2,749 villages in 17 provinces found that in 74 percent of them, there was no one left behind who was fit to go work in city factories — the labor pool was dry.

Mass layoffs in late 2008 and early 2009 because of the global financial crisis temporarily masked the developing shortage of industrial workers. But two powerful trends were still working to reduce the supply of young people headed for factories.

For one, the Chinese government has rapidly expanded postsecondary education. Universities and other institutions of higher learning enrolled 6.4 million new students last year, compared to 5.7 million in 2007 and just 2.2 million in 2000.

At the same time, China’s birth rate has been sliding steadily ever since the introduction of the “one child” policy in 1977. Labor shortages have returned quickly in recent weeks as these long-term trends have collided with a recovery in overseas demand for Chinese goods.

Far more jobs are available these days in China’s interior. Government projects like rail and highway construction have absorbed millions of workers, particularly after Beijing allocated nearly $600 billion to economic stimulus spending in 2009 and 2010.

Consumer spending is also rising briskly; auto sales more than doubled last month from a year before, and this has created many jobs in retailing, restaurants, hotels and other inland businesses.

Most factories in and around Yiwu reply on skilled factory workers. The situation really worries everyone in Yiwu market except job hunters. They have plenty of choices now.

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