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April 2009, Vol. 132, No. 4
China’s manufacturing employment and compensation costs: 2002–06
Erin Lett and Judith Banister
In 2006, China passed Mexico to become the United States’ second-largest trading partner in manufactured goods, behind only Canada.1 Because of China’s growing importance to the U.S. economy, there has been great interest in statistics about China’s manufacturing sector, particularly employment statistics and a comparable compensation costs measure. In response to this interest, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sponsored a baseline research project to assess the quality of China’s data on manufacturing employment and labor compensation and to develop estimates of hourly compensation costs in China. The data sources and estimation procedures used in that original work have been the basis for updates through 2004 and, in this article, through 2006, when the average hourly compensation costs of China’s 112 million manufacturing employees were $0.81.2
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1 “Top Trading Partners—Surplus, Deficit, Total Trade” (U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division, January 2009), on the Internet at www.census.gov/foreign-trade/top (visited Mar. 17, 2009).
2 The currency denoted by the dollar sign ($) is U.S. dollars. For the original detailed report on 2002 manufacturing employment and labor compensation, see Judith Banister, “Manufacturing Employment and Compensation in China,” on the Internet at www.bls.gov/ilc/chinareport.pdf (visited Mar. 17, 2009), or the following two Monthly Labor Review articles based on that report: Judith Banister, “Manufacturing employment in China,” Monthly Labor Review, July 2005, pp. 11–29, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2005/07/art2full.pdf (visited Mar. 17, 2009); and Judith Banister, “Manufacturing earnings and compensation in China,” Monthly Labor Review, August 2005, pp. 22–40, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2005/08/art3full.pdf (visited Mar. 17, 2009). These works were updated through 2004 in Erin Lett and Judith Banister, “Labor costs of manufacturing employees in China: an update to 2003–04,” Monthly Labor Review, November 2006, pp. 40–45, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2006/11/art4full.pdf (visited Mar. 17, 2009).
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