The start of the Lunar New Year is just a weekend away. And the world’s largest human migration, “Chunyun”, is happening in China.

CCTV’s Roee Ruttenberg reports from Washington.

An estimated one out of five people on this earth will likely travel somewhere during Chunyun. Many will make more than one journey.

In total, close to four billion trips will be made during the 40-day period. That’s the 15 days before the start of the Lunar year, the Year of the Monkey, and the 25 days after it.

Compare that to the roughly 50 million trips Americans take during the busy Thanksgiving holiday.

Many are students or migrants, heading home. On average, they’ll travel considerably long distances.

In one week last year, Chinese travelers spent more than $100 billion. That’s double the amount Americans spent during Thanksgiving.

Chunyun can also be a logistical nightmare. 

During the one-week travel rush in late February, a record 320 million people are expected to make a journey by train. That’s 8 percent more than last year.

The Chinese government is scheduling extra trains to accommodate the surge in demand. But tickets always run out, and scalping is a big problem.

A number of measures are being taken to make the process smoother. Officials say extra police will patrol rail stations and other public places during the Spring Festival to help ensure the safety and security of those who are travelling.

Tim Pringle on the impact of labor shortage during Spring Festival

It isn’t just retailers that experience labor shortages during the spring festival. As millions head home across China for family reunions, many factories and other businesses lose big chunks of their workforce for a month.

For more on the impact, CCTV’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Tim Pringle from the University of London. He is the author of the book, “Trade Unions in China: The Challenge of Labour Unrest”.