picture from www.aflcio.org
picture from www.aflcio.org

BEIJING – China is expected to achieve its average annual minimum wage growth target of13 percent for the five-year period ending in 2015, experts said on Thursday.

Nineteen regions in Chinese mainland increased their minimum wage at an average rate of14.1 percent in 2014, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said on Thursday.

The growth pace is faster than the planned annual average growth rate, but slower than theprevious three years, said the ministry in a statement posted on its official website.

In China, where city and provincial governments set minimum wage standards, 27 regionsraised the minimum wage by an average rate of 17 percent in 2013, while minimum wagehikes in 25 regions surpassed 20 percent on average in 2011 and 2012.

Last year, Shanghai registered both the highest statutory minimum monthly wage of 1,820yuan (about $297) and the highest hourly rate of 17 yuan, the statement said.

“Although the annual minimum wage growth slowed, the rate is considered high given thatinflation-adjusted growth still outpaced GDP expansion,” said Zhou Tianyong, professor withthe Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

China’s economy grew 7.4 percent in 2014, the weakest annual expansion in 24 years, whilethe consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, rose 2 percent year on year.

It is quite normal that the minimum wage growth rate downgraded after the economicslowdown and commodity price falls, said Su Hainan, deputy head of the China Associationfor Labor Studies.

“The above-20-percent growth pace could not last forever,” Su added.

Zheng Bingwen, chief of the World Social Security Studies Center at CASS, believes theincrease in minimum wage will generate immediate benefits for the lowest-paid workers.

Data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics also showed that the pay of Chinese urbanworkers grew at a slower pace last year.

The average annual income of urban employees in the public sector rose by 9.4 percent yearon year to 56,339 yuan, a growth rate 0.7 percentage points lower than in 2013.

Income of private sector employees surged by 11.3 percent to an annual average of 36,390yuan, with the growth rate 2.5 percentage points lower when compared with 2013.

Income growth in recent years can be considered “compensatory,” given that Chineseworkers’ salary growth has been less than the rate of GDP growth for many years, said ZhengGongcheng, head of the Social Security Research Center affiliated with the RenminUniversity of China.