Hong Kong unveils latest wage, payroll statistics

The government forecasts further burden on the labour market due to the pandemic

Hong Kong unveils latest wage, payroll statistics

Hong Kong's average wage rate increased by 1.8% in nominal terms in December 2021, according to the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), but overall saw a decrease of 1.1% in real terms compared to the previous year.

The average wage rate is measured by the wage index, while the overall wage rate includes discounting the changes in consumer prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

A government spokesman in a media release attributed the 1.8% increase in nominal terms to the "improvement in employment conditions along with the economic recovery at that time."

"After discounting for inflation, the average wage rate decreased in real terms, as the year-on-year increase in the headline Consumer Price Index in that month was enlarged by the low base caused by the Government's one-off relief measures a year earlier," the spokesman added.

According to the figures released by the C&SD, about 54% of companies reported increase in average wage rates in December 2021 compared to the previous year, while 42% recorded a decrease. The remaining four per cent had no change in average wage rates.

In terms of payroll statistics, the C&SD figures revealed that the index of payroll per person increased by 1.5% in nominal terms in the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year.

"Payroll per person engaged in most major industries saw year-on-year increases," said the government spokesperson. "In particular, the Consumption Voucher Scheme provided support to businesses of consumption-related industries … and saw payroll per person engaged in these industries register accelerated growth."

There was a modest decline in payroll per person, however, for workers under the sectors of transportation, storage, postal and courier services, as well as social and personal services.

Read more: Hong Kong's job market starts weakening as recession deepens

The wage rate only covers basic wages and other regular and guarantees allowances and bonuses, according to the government release, while the payroll includes elements covered by wage rate as well as discretionary bonuses and overtime allowances.

According to the government spokesperson, the latest figures from C&SD only reflect the situation in Hong Kong up to the end of 2021.

"Due to the fifth wave of local epidemic, the labour market has deteriorated visibly of late, and will continue to face pressure in the near term," said the spokesperson.

The government has rolled out various initiatives to help businesses recover once the local epidemic situation wanes. Such efforts include relief measures to support enterprises and preserve employment.

"Meanwhile, it is essential for the community to work in unison with the Government to put the local epidemic under control as quickly as possible. The Government will continue to monitor the developments closely."

The latest statistics were based on the results of C&SD's Labour Earnings Survey.

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