‘World’s Factory’ Struggles to Hire Help
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Factories inside China’s largest manufacturing city are gradually receiving more and more work orders. They emptied out due to the pandemic. But as prevention measures lessen, workers don’t seem to be returning.

Dongguan city, also known as the “world’s factory,” gets much of its work from foreign job orders. According to official figures, Dongguan’s imports and exports amounted to $40 billion in 2020. That’s 40 percent of the city’s total GDP this year. Across China, more than 200 million people work in the import/export sector and related areas.

The early stages of the pandemic severely reduced the city’s orders from abroad. Factories were forced to take extended vacations, and some even closed down.

About 75 percent of the city’s population are migrant workers. Many employees returned to their hometowns to find work.

As the pandemic situation improves outside China, the factories’ foreign job orders are gradually returning. But the people are not.