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Over 2.2 million workers exit big cities in 2021 amid pandemic

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – Over 2.2 million migrant workers left the big cities for their hometowns during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Data of the GSO showed that as of December 15, 2021, some 524,000 workers left HCMC for their hometowns, while 447,000 people got out of Hanoi. Southern cities and provinces (except HCMC) saw 600,000 imgrant workers coming back to their home provinces and more than 676,000 others to the other localities.

The GSO said most of them were informal workers who were severely affected by stringent social distancing and lockdown measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in big cities.

Pham Hoai Nam, director of the Population and Labor Statistics Department, said the reverse migration wave has caused severe labor shortages in several industries, especially textiles and footwear.

Meanwhile, workers are finding it difficult to get new jobs after returning to their hometowns, forcing the local authorities to introduce new labor policies to facilitate the recovery of the job market.

Nam said the Mekong Delta region in particular is also facing a number of challenges related to migration and human resources, while this is the largest agricultural production region of Vietnam, accounting for up to 70% of the country’s total aquaculture production. The labor shortage in the Mekong Delta will affect not only the socioeconomic development of cities and provinces in the region but also the country’s food security.

However, the labor market showed signs of recovery toward the end of 2021 thanks to the high Covid-19 vaccination rates and relaxed social distancing measures. In the fourth quarter of last year, the average monthly income improved, while the unemployment rate decreased compared to the third quarter, according to the GSO.

To encourage workers to get back to big cities, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs has taken a number of measures such as offering accommodation, financial and medical support for migrant workers.

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