China Promotes Startups to Boost Job Creation as Economy Slows

China pledged new steps to encourage entrepreneurship and boost job creation, as economic growth slows and employment pressures rise.

The State Council plans to support startups to boost employment growth, according to a statement posted Friday on the government’s website. The council will support small businesses’ efforts to hire university graduates and encourage skills training, especially for unemployed and rural residents.

The statement follows Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s call last week for more proactive policies to relieve pressure on the job market. The country saw its slowest growth since 2009 in the first quarter, weighing on Li’s effort to once again beat his target for creating 10 million urban jobs this year, a goal which the country exceeded by 3.2 million last year.

More young Chinese are looking past government jobs to try their fortunes at startups, as state-backed companies falter in the slowdown. They’ve been encouraged the success of entrepreneurs such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chairman Jack Ma while the Communist Party’s years-long crackdown on graft has made the civil service less prestigious and lucrative.

The State Council cited plans announced last month to increase tax breaks and subsidies to some enterprises to support job creation. Such measures include giving guaranteed loans of as much as 100,000 yuan ($16,000) for small companies and providing social security subsidies to those that hire university graduates.

The ratio of jobs available to job seekers in China dropped to 1.12 in the first quarter from 1.15 in the October-December period, indicating the labor market is getting slightly weaker, according to a statement from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on April 21.

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Manager Index was at 50.1 in April, according to numbers released Friday, suggesting growth may be starting to stabilize after the government eased monetary policy and spurred infrastructure investment. A number above 50 indicates expansion.

— With assistance by Liza Lin

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