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Around China: Returned migrant workers refill "empty nests"


14:42, February 03, 2012

HEFEI, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- In years gone by, Yang Zhengmei used to have to leave her family in the middle of the Spring Festival and travel overnight on a coach to return to her job in eastern Zhejiang province, but those days have been left in the past.

Having returned to her hometown of Fuli township in the city of Suzhou in eastern Anhui province two years ago, Yang has just enjoyed a Spring Festival vacation of more than 10 days, which she was able to spend seeing relatives and friends and taking care of her children and aged parents.

That Yang and many other former migrants like her are able to work so close to their families and enjoy periods of relaxation such as the Spring Festival is down to local employment policies. These involve subsidies and preferential treatment for start-up firms, and are succeeding in their aim of encouraging workers to come back home.

With local workers' homecomings credited with easing unrest that had been developing in the area, the policies are set for expansion in 2012.

More adults once forced to travel far and wide in search of work will return to head up their families, and officials hope this will ensure the trend for greater social stability and less crime in the area continues.

Yang is employed in a transformer factory a short walk from her home, enabling her to go back and cook for her family during the lunch break.

Almost all her 100-plus fellow workers, recruited in the past two years since the factory was founded, are returned migrant workers, according to the factory's general manager, Zong Qianjin.

An agricultural area, Suzhou in northern Anhui has exported nearly one third of its four-million rural population to work in other parts of the country in recent years, statistics from the municipal government show. These travelers are typically working-age people between 16 and 50, and their absence has left a significant gap in society.

"The outflow of the young and able-bodied population has left abundant aged people and children uncared for," says Zu Jungong, deputy director of the municipal commission of economy and information technology, pointing to a phenomenon referred to as "empty nests." "Crimes like theft and gun killing have been on the rise."

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Kafantaris at 2012-02-06174.252.201.*
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