Higher export prices from China
The labour market in China's industrial centres is tightening. In part, this can be attributed to a decline in the proportion of younger generations in the labour force owing to the one-child policy which began around 1980. It is precisely the younger age groups that migrate from the rural areas to the cities to find work. Consequently, the minimum wage in large parts of the country has been raised by 10 to 20 %. At the same time, prices in international commodities markets have doubled since the beginning of 2009. Chinese enterprises are now passing on the higher commodities prices and wage costs in consumer and export prices. In January and February of this year, consumer prices were 4.9% higher than in the same months of last year (chart 1). In addition, higher food prices are also driving up consumer prices. Food expenditures in China account for around a third of total household spending. Higher food prices cause social unrest among the population and are a source of serious concern for the authorities.