The Mekong Delta is home to more than 17 million people – about a fifth of the total population of Vietnam. Indeed, if the Mekong Delta were an independent state, it would rank 62nd worldwide in population size, topping countries such as the Netherlands, Portugal or Cambodia.
The majority of the Mekong Delta’s population still resides in rural areas, but urbanization is increasing rapidly. Can Tho, the largest city in the region and the fourth largest in Vietnam, accounts for roughly 1.2 million people. Other places like Long Xuyen, Rach Gia, My Tho and Ca Mau are also emerging quickly.
The Mekong Delta has more than 10 million people in its labor pool, representing 19% of the total Vietnamese workforce. About half of the labor pool works in agriculture; 17% are employed in construction and 33% are employed in the service sector. Development is progressing rapidly in the region, but it remains primarily agrarian.
Average monthly wages in the Delta in 2014 were about 160 USD – the lowest of all regions in Vietnam. This makes the Delta attractive for employers in labor-intensive manufacturing and services sectors, particularly in comparison to Ho Chi Minh City and other industrialized provinces like Binh Duong and Dong Nai.
International firms in the region find it easy to recruit unskilled workers. However, recruiting skilled workers, such as seasoned technicians or management positions, can at times be more challenging. Improved professional education and training helps to increase the base of skilled workers in the region; the percentage of workers with either a vocational or university education has more than doubled between 2006 and 2012.