China’s stunning export comeback has factories scrambling for workers

China’s manufacturing recovery, fueled in part by demand from COVID-constrained consumers abroad, has soared past expectations this year, so much so that factories are now struggling to fill a shortage of blue-collar workers to clear mounting orders.

The country’s output of industrial robots, computer equipment, and integrated circuits has roared back from its coronavirus paralysis – production for the year to November is up 22 percent, 10 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Much of the manufacturing boom has come from foreign demand, with export growth topping expectations for eight of the last nine months.

The remarkable turnaround comes as China has mostly eradicated the virus and contrasts with the sluggish comebacks seen in major industrialized peers, where factories are still struggling with pandemic disruptions and the hit to demand.

The yuan is also hovering near multi-year peaks against the dollar, pressuring profits further.

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