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China’s minimum wage rising as rich-poor gap widens
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China’s minimum wage rising as rich-poor gap widens

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China’s minimum wage rising as rich-poor gap widens

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — In China, a parade of local governments are rushing to raise the minimum wage, with the moves coming amid a recent widening of the already-large gap between rich and poor.

So far this year, 16 provinces and major cities in China have hiked their minimum-wage levels by an average of 14.2%, according to Xinhua News report citing the latest statistics from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

The wage hikes “may affect part of China’s labor-intensive enterprises, especially those small and medium-sized ones paying employees the minimum wage as their basic salaries,” the report quoted ministry spokesman Li Zhong as saying.

Among the 16 regions, Shanghai’s minimum wage is now the highest, with the monthly rate increased by 12.3% to 1,820 yuan ($293) and the hourly wage hiked by 21.4% to 17 yuan ($2.70), according to data compiled by the state-owned China News Agency.

Meanwhile, data on the ministry’s website showed a total of 27 regions increased their minimum wage by an average of 17% in 2013.
Wealth inequality vs. income inequality

The minimum-wage raise come against the backdrop of a widening gap between China’s rich and poor.

A recent survey by Peking University showed that 1% of China’s richest families owned more than 30% of the nation’ s total wealth in 2012, while the poorest 25% only possessed just 1%.

“China’s wealth inequality has spiked quickly,” said the survey, which was published Sunday on the website of the university’s Institute of Social Science Survey.

It added that household-wealth inequality was worse than income inequality, and that the urban-rural divide and regional disparities among the driving factors.

The country’s Gini coefficient for household wealth has jumped to 0.73 in 2012 from 0.55 in 2002, the survey noted.

The Gini coefficient is a measurement of the degree of inequality in the distribution of a country’s income or wealth, with 1 representing total inequality and 0 showing total equality.

Officially, China’s Gini coefficient was 0.473 last year, according to data from the CIA World Factbook.

The Peking University figure would make China the most economically unequal on Earth, surpassing the top 3 nation’s on the CIA table — Lesotho, South Africa and Botswana, with Gini coefficients of 0.632, 0.631, and 0.600, respectively — though those figures measure income rather than wealth.
Tough times for China’s graduates

Unfortunately, the situation may not get better anytime soon, judging from a report Monday in the state-owned Beijing Youth Daily newspaper.

China’s college graduates are facing the “toughest job-hunting season in history,” with almost 39% of this year’s college graduate lacking employment as of May, the report said, citing research from ChinaHR, one of country’s the largest recruitment sites.

Possibly as a result, China’s younger generation is becoming more entrepreneurial, with almost 19% of recent graduates are leaning toward starting their own business, jumping from just over 2% last year.

The report also included survey results on which companies students would most like to work for, with China Mobile Ltd. HK:0941 +0.95% CHL -2.59% ranking No. 1. Some foreign firms are also seen as attractive, with Apple AAPL -0.05% ranking No. 26.

China?s minimum wage rising as rich-poor gap widens - MarketWatch

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