Los Angeles Times

China's labor conundrum

LIPU, China - Many of the world's clothes hangers originate in two-story warehouses on the road to Lipu, a steamy town in southern China where the river flows between towering karst formations and vendors sell the sweetest taro.

Lights strung along the promenade form shapes of the town's lifeblood. Residents take pride in the smooth wooden products that ship to Target and Ikea from "China's hanger capital." But scribbled help-wanted signs on its factory doors hint at a new reality.

China became the world's manufacturer because it offered cheap, plentiful labor and a ready supply chain. In Lipu, workers produced billions of hangers that filled closets from Savannah, Ga., to Stockholm. These same factories now struggle to find employees, as wages rise and the population

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