Indian wages set to grow by over 10%, leading Asia

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Even with an economy growing at its slowest pace in a decade, average Indian salaries are projected to jump by more than 10 per cent this year, a new survey forecast on Wednesday.

That is far below the blistering 15 per cent before the onset of the global financial crisis when the economy was expanding at near double digits, according to figures from global staffing services firm Hewitt Association.

But India leads in salary rises across key Asia-Pacific nations with its projected average 10.3 per cent rise for 2013 followed by China, where wages are seen growing by 9.3 per cent, the survey said.

"Business sentiment is strengthening," Mr Sandeep Chaudhary, consultant at Aeon Hewitt, told a news conference to announce the results of the survey of 500 companies.

The government has forecast the economy will grow by 5.0 per cent in the year to March 2013, the weakest in a decade, though Finance Minister P. Chidambaram says he is confident he can steer expansion to 6 to 7 per cent next year.

But India says even those rates, while enviable by anaemic Western standards, are not enough to create the jobs the nation needs for its fast-growing young population.

The Philippines and Malaysia will post the next fastest wage rises of 7.2 per cent this year, Hong Kong will notch up 4.8 per cent, Singapore will rise by 4.7 per cent and Australia by 4.2 per cent.

Japan is expected to post the lowest rise of just 2.4 per cent, the survey showed.

By contrast, salaries in the United States are forecast to increase by 3 per cent, Mr Chaudhary said.

The figures for India only reflect the prospects for the 7.0 percent of the labour force employed in the so-called organised sector such as government, state and privately owned firms, according to India's National Sample Survey.

A massive 93 per cent are employed in the unorganised sector working as anything from pushcart vendors to servants.