China’s Countryside Grows as Economy Slows

As China’s economy slows, millions of migrant workers are flocking back to the countryside raising concern among local governments that they may stay there.

Chins is dealing with an overall shrinking labor force in the wake of a growing trend of reverse migration back to the countryside. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the migrant population dropped by 5.68 million in 2015 seeing its first decline in more than 30 years.

Part of this trend can be attributed to a decline in the labor-intensive manufacturing sector and a growth in rural economies.

Analysts expect rural per-capita income to exceed 10,000 yuan in 2016 for the first time. This would also mean it would surpass urban-income growth for the fifth straight year.

Many are also going home with an entrepreneurial spirit.

The amount of people starting new businesses in rural China grew by 3.1 percent, year over year, in the first half of 2015. This amounts to about 2 million migrants returning home to start new businesses.

Still, the government can do more to make the most out of these changing demographics.

To help these entrepreneurs, the government could establish more micro-credit programs, as returning migrants typically don’t attract capital from bankers. The Internet could also serve as a driving force. Less than a half of rural inhabitants have access to the Web.

Still, several returning migrants are looking for training and jobs rather than start-ups. The government could help modernize the industry they left behind: agriculture. New vocational schools could arm returning migrants with the skills needed to thrive in the country’s growing agribusiness-sector even though it remains in its nascent stages.

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