China raises minimum wage to support consumption

China's cities and provinces raised minimum wages in the first half of 2014 at a rate far outstripping economic growth as the government seeks to support consumption, local media reported on Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
China's cities and provinces raised minimum wages in the first half of 2014 at a rate far outstripping economic growth as the government seeks to support consumption, local media reported on Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's cities and provinces raised minimum wages in the first half of 2014 at a rate far outstripping economic growth as the government seeks to support consumption, local media reported on Tuesday.

The average minimum wage in 16 cities and provinces, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Shandong and Sichuan, grew by 14.2 per cent in the first half from a year earlier, the semi-official China News Service reported.

The average wage in Zhejiang province rose 12.5 per cent, while the economy expanded 7.4 per cent in the first half of 2014 from a year earlier. Annual inflation was 2.3 per cent in June.

Still, the average wage rise for the 17 cities and provinces was the lowest in recent years, it added.

After the latest increases, Shanghai had the highest monthly minimum wage of 1,820 yuan (S$369) and per-hour wage of 17 yuan, according to the report on the website www.chinanews.com.

The news service reported in April that Shanghai had raised the monthly wage by 12.3 per cent from 1,620 yuan.

The central government has repeatedly pledged to increase workers' share of national income, pushing up wages steadily for more than a decade. Wage growth has slowed in recent years as the economy softened.

Under the government's 2011-15 five-year plan the minimum wage is expected to be raised by an average of 13 per cent a year, according to the government-run website china.org.cn.