HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

December wage rate unchanged at 1%

The government said this is the slowest in nearly 11 years.

The average wage rate in nominal terms climbed slightly by 1% across all industry sections in December 2020, the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) said.

Around 50% of companies reported an increase in average rate, compared to the same month in 2019; whilst 46% saw their average wage rate drop. The other 4% reported no changes.

“The year-on-year nominal increase in overall wages in December 2020 stayed unchanged from that in September 2020, and was the slowest in nearly 11 years,” a government spokesman said. The C&SD had reported the average wage rate in September 2020 increased by 1%.

The spokesman added that growth in earnings will “stay contained” as Hong Kong’s economy will take time to recover.

Upon discounting changes in consumer prices, the average wage rate across industries increased by 1.7% in real terms in December 2020. The spokesman noted the larger increase reflects the effect of the one-relief measures last December.

The wage rate includes basic wages and other regular allowances and bonuses. The payroll, meanwhile, covers the wage rate and other irregular payments, such as overtime pay.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, payroll per person increased by 1.8% in nominal terms, compared to the same quarter in 2019. In real terms, payroll per person increased by 2.1%.

“The year-on-year nominal growth in payroll per person engaged in the fourth quarter of 2020…decelerated to the slowest in over a decade,” the spokesman said.

Year-on-year increases in nominal wage indices ranged from 0.4%-2.7% in all selected industries, except in transportation which recorded a decrease of 1.5% in December 2020.

In real wage, the increases ranged from 1.1%-3.4% across industries, except in transportation, which decreased 0.8%.

Particularly, in the fourth quarter, payroll per person in the sewerage, waste management and remediation activities, information and communications, financial and insurance activities, real estate activities; professional and business services; and social and personal services increased 1.1-5.6% in nominal terms; whilst payroll per person in industry sections of manufacturing, import/export and wholesale trades, retail trade, transportation, storage, postal and courier services, and accommodation and food service activities decreased 0.1%-10.5%.

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