China's lowest minimum wage area rises up pay scale

08:15, March 01, 2011      

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China's lowest minimum wage region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, has increased monthly minimum wage standards by 24.9 percent on average, starting from April 1.

The increase would raise Ningxia to 12th in minimum wage standards out of the Chinese mainland's 31 provincial-level administrations, said Zhang Xuewu, head of the region's Human Resources and Social Security Department.

The region had three salary standards, categorized according to economic development levels. In the capital city of Yinchuan and Shizuishan City, which belonged to the highest standard, the minimum wage rose from 710 yuan (108 U.S. dollars) to 900 yuan, said Zhang.

The lowest standard would be 750 yuan after the adjustment.

It is the eighth rise in the minimum wage since 1995 in the backward region, where 800,000 people still lived in poverty last year, accounting for 23.7 percent of the rural population.

The region's GDP rose 13.4 percent to 164.3 billion yuan and the disposable annual income of urban dwellers jumped by 9.4 percent to 15,345 yuan last year, according to the regional government work report in 2010.

Ningxia's move was announced the same day as Premier Wen Jiabao said during an on-line chat with the public that the government would raise salaries of low-income groups and minimum living allowances to ensure fair income distribution.

His chat came six days before the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

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