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Salaries stifled amid sluggish exports

By Chen Yang (Global Times)

14:33, January 09, 2013

About 65 percent of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) did not increase salaries for their employees in the fourth quarter of 2012, as they chose to survive tough times through controlling labor costs, a quarterly survey on 1,000 SMEs in China showed Tuesday.

Only about 35 percent of the surveyed firms said they raised employees' salaries in the past quarter, compared to 70 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the Standard Chartered Bank said in a report sent to the Global Times Tuesday.

The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2012, covering 1,000 SMEs in 20 cities, mainly in the manufacturing and logistics sectors.

Fewer employers in central and western China raised salaries for their employees, compared to those in eastern and southern regions, where labor costs have kept rising, the report said.

The decrease in salary growth signals that SMEs cannot afford rising labor costs in the short term. If the sluggish global economy continues to weigh on China's exports, the country's business owners are less likely to raise salaries for employees, the report said.

"The moderate inflation in 2012 also relieved the pressure for salary growth," Feng Lijuan, chief consultant at, a NASDAQ-listed human resources service provider, told the Global Times Tuesday.

Surveys from several human resources consultancies have shown the same tendency: employees' salary growth in China will slow down in 2013, along with the rest of the economy.

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