Citing a survey of 150 rural villages across the country, Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the office of the State Council’s leading group on economic and financial affairs and charged with responsibility for rural issues, said that 20 million (15.4%) of the mainland’s 130 million migrant workers are out of work, reported the South China Morning Post. The figure is twice the government’s earlier estimate. Chen said the number could reach 25 million this year. A research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Rural Development Institute said the number could be higher as the survey only looked at out-of-town rural workers. Chen said non-agricultural income accounted for 40% of rural household’s revenue and that migrant worker unemployment would undermine attempts to raise farmers’ income. The assessment followed a day after the State Council warned that 2009 could be the toughest year since 2000 for the rural economy. China’s GDP in the fourth quarter of 2008 dropped to 6.8% causing some analysts to cut their 2009 growth forecasts to 5%.
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