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Migrants Urged to Stay Home Awhile

Although Spring Festival is officially over, transient labourers are finding it difficult to find jobs in big cities at this time because many companies have not yet got back into full swing.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security released this information Tuesday with the hope that farmers who want to leave their hometowns to find work will not flood city job markets too quickly.

The ministry decided on this action after a national survey was conducted during the holiday season involving 5,287 companies in 24 major cities.

More such surveys will be conducted regularly and the findings will be made public.

Two-thirds of the companies surveyed said they would like to employ new workers but not until one to three months after Spring Festival.

Xin Changxing, director of the Department of Training and Employment under the ministry, said the survey's purpose is to rationalize the flow of migrant labourers into urban centres.

"It is better that farmers are informed of the labour demand situation in the cities before they leave their homes," Xin said.

He added that industries such as construction, clothing and food processing are the main sectors that can employ the surplus farmers.

Despite the labour authorities' warning, in the past several days millions of rural labourers have already headed for cities to join the massive job hunt.

But public transportation companies say it is not easy to get rail or air tickets because of limited transportation capacity at present. The country is experiencing a second peak in transportation as people who had returned to their birth places for the holiday are heading back to the cities.

Official estimates indicate about 70 million migrant workers will be travelling back to cities across the country during this second traffic peak.

The Ministry of Railways yesterday added about 200 temporary trains to transport crowded passengers in the railway stations in East and South China, where transient labourers, students, travellers and relative-visitors are rolling in.

The ministry's statistics indicate, during the peak before the festival, the railways handled about 41 million passengers, with a daily volume of 2.92 million, on top of millions who returned home by other means and those who went before the seasonal rush.

During the 40 days of Spring Festival holiday season from January 28 to March 8, a total of 1.74 billion people will travel, about 100 million more than the figure reported last year.

(China Daily February 20, 2002)

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