International Labor Comparisons

Manufacturing in China

China map


In recent years, China has become one of the United States’ primary trading partners in manufactured goods. Due to China’s growing importance in global manufacturing, BLS has developed estimates of hourly compensation costs in China’s manufacturing sector. The latest update provides compensation estimates for 2009 and revises 2002-2008 estimates based on new information available. A more detailed description of the methodology can be found in China’s manufacturing employment and hourly labor compensation, 2002-2009.

The annual data available on China’s manufacturing employment and earnings do not follow international standards for concepts and coverage. Therefore, the BLS estimates are not directly comparable to other BLS series on employment and compensation costs.

A notable improvement in China’s data collection of labor costs was implemented for the first time in China’s Second Economic Census: enterprises reported 2008 data for average wages as well as for all above-wage labor costs. BLS uses these new data to estimate a revised series of manufacturing compensation costs from 2002 through 2009.



Manufacturing employment and labor compensation, 2002-2009

The current definition used in China for manufacturing employees includes only those employees of established manufacturing enterprises; it excludes individual and small group informal manufacturing production. China’s manufacturing enterprise employment has increased every year since 2002 from 85.9 million to 99.0 million in 2009 (see Table 1). China’s 2009 manufacturing employment was much larger than employment for any other country; for example, manufacturing employment in the United States was only 14.2 million.

Hourly compensation costs in China’s manufacturing sector nearly tripled between 2002 and 2009, calculated on a U.S. dollar basis (see Table 2). Hourly compensation costs in China are still low by international standards; however, costs have increased from about 2 percent of the U.S. level in 2002 to 5 percent in 2009. Compensation costs rose particularly rapidly after 2006 as both base wages and increased requirements for social insurance drove costs up.

Tables


Table 1. Manufacturing employment in China, in millions, 2002 - 2009
Manufacturing Employment
Total Urban Rural (TVE)

2002

85.9 30.3 55.6

2003

86.4 29.8 56.5

2004

88.6 30.2 58.4

2005

92.0 31.3 60.7

2006

94.9 32.8 62.1

2007

96.9 34.1 62.8

2008

98.5 34.5 64.0

2009

99.0 34.6 64.4

Note: TVE refers to town and village enterprises.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, International Labor Comparisons.

Table 2. Average hourly compensation costs of manufacturing employees in China, U.S. Dollars, 2002-2009
Hourly Compensation per Employee
All Firms Urban Rural (TVE)

2002

0.60 0.95 0.41

2003

0.68 1.09 0.46

2004

0.74 1.23 0.50

2005

0.83 1.35 0.57

2006

0.95 1.56 0.64

2007

1.21 1.96 0.80

2008

1.59 2.58 1.06

2009

1.74 2.85 1.15

Note: TVE refers to town and village enterprises.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, International Labor Comparisons.

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Charts

Average hourly compensation costs of manufacturing employees in China, in U.S. Dollars, 2002-2009Average hourly compensation costs of manufacturing employees, selected economies and regions, 2002-2009Employees in the manufacturing sector, selected economies, 2002-2009Gap in hourly compensation costs between urban and rural (TVE) manufacturing employees in China, U.S. Dollars, 2002-2009Average hourly compensation costs of manufacturing employees in China, by components of compensation, U.S. Dollars, 2002-2009

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Publications

  • China’s manufacturing employment and hourly labor compensation, 2002-2009 (HTML) (PDF)
  • China's employment and compensation costs in manufacturing through 2008 (PDF)
  • International Comparisons of Hourly Compensation Costs in Manufacturing (PDF)
  • "China's manufacturing employment and compensation costs: 2002-06," (PDF) by Erin Lett and Judith Banister, Monthly Labor Review, April 2009, pp. 30-38.
  • "Labor Costs of Manufacturing Employees in China: An Update to 2003-04," (PDF) by Erin Lett and Judith Banister, Monthly Labor Review, November 2006, pp. 40-45.
  • Manufacturing Employment and Compensation in China. (PDF) (Revised November 2005) by Judith Banister under contract to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Please note: The opinions, analysis, and conclusions expressed in the report are solely those of the author.
  • "Manufacturing Earnings and Compensation in China," (PDF) by Judith Banister, Monthly Labor Review, August 2005, pp. 22-40.
  • "Manufacturing Employment in China," (PDF) by Judith Banister, Monthly Labor Review, July 2005, pp. 11-29.

Last Modified Date: June 7, 2013