China Manufacturers Survive by Moving to Asian Neighbors

CARLOS Tiger without Time

In a corner of a sprawling factory in this coastal southern city, sewing machines that stitched blouses and shirts for Lever Style Inc.’s clients now gather dust. As the din on the factory floor has dropped, so, too, has the payroll. Over the past two years, Lever Style’s employee count in China has declined by one-third to 5,000 workers.

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The company in April began moving apparel production for Japanese retail chain Uniqlo to Vietnam, where wages can be half those in China. Lever Style also is testing a shift to India for U.S. department-store chain Nordstrom Inc. JWN -0.78% and moving production for other customers.

It’s a matter of survival. After a decade of nearly 20% annual wage increases in China, Lever Style says it can no longer make money here.

First in a Series: China’s Changing Work Force

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Thomas Lee for The Wall Street JournalA board shows workers’ statuses…

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