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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Worker pay subpar in China, report says

By  Feng Jianmin   (Shanghai Daily)

08:22, April 05, 2012

The average wage of Chinese mainland workers is less than half of the world average when measured by purchasing power, a recent UN report shows.

The report released by the UN's International Labor Organization found wage earners on the mainland made an average equivalent of US$656 a month, ranking 57th out of the 72 countries the report covered.

The world average was US$1,480 a month, while Luxemburg had the world's richest workers, who earned an average US$4,089 a month.

China's Hong Kong and Macau were listed in the 30th and 52nd spots, with average wages of US$1,545 and US$758, respectively, the BBC reported.

The salary is not calculated in normal US dollars but in purchasing power parity dollars. The value of one PPP dollar equals what a US dollar can buy in the United States.

According to the calculation, Chinese mainland individuals who earn 6,000 yuan (US$952) a month have purchasing power equal to the world's average.

But the results are believed to be partial as the report was made on 2009 data and did not include a large part of the labor force such as self-employed workers, independent farmers or people living on social benefits.

"It tells you something about the quality of life of the middle classes," ILO economist Patrick Belser told the BBC. "What it shows, also, is that the average salary is still pretty low, and that the worldwide level of economic development is in fact still pretty low, in spite of the huge affluence that we see in some places."

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China showed that average income for urban residents was 1,998 yuan a month in 2011. In Shanghai, the situation is much different. The city's statistics bureau said in March that average salary for employees in the city was 4,388 yuan a month in 2011.


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