7 provinces and cities lift lowest salary level
Seven Chinese provinces and cities have increased their minimum wages this year, with wages in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin now exceeding 2,000 yuan (4) per month.
Tianjin's monthly minimum wage will be raised from 1,950 yuan to 2,050 yuan starting from July 1, and that of Shenzhen has gone up to 2,130 yuan from June 1. In April, Shanghai increased its minimum wage from 2,190 yuan to 2,300 yuan, the highest among the seven cities and provinces, according to news portal chinanews.com.
Other provinces that have raised minimum wages this year include Shandong, Qinghai and Shaanxi.
China's minimum wage system was first implemented in 2004, and since then wages have consistently risen. But over the past two years, wage hikes have become smaller.
According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS), the minimum wage nationwide has risen by an annual average of 13 percent in the past five years, but only two of the 13 cities and provinces that raised their minimum wages in the first half of 2016 exceeded the rate of 13 percent, according to news site ceweekly.cn.
Separately, the monthly salary of China's fresh college graduates has grown by 30 percent in the past five years, rising from 3,366 yuan in 2012 to 4,376 yuan in 2016, according to a recent survey conducted by education research company MyCOS Institute.
According to the survey obtained by the Global Times Wednesday, an increasing number of fresh college graduates have been taking jobs with private companies in the past five years. The ratio of fresh graduates hired by the State-owned enterprises dropped from 25 percent in 2012 to 19 percent in 2016.
Referring to concerns over the effect of minimum wage hikes on the competitiveness of China's labor-intensive manufacturing industry, an official from the MHRSS told a media briefing last year that the country should slow down its adjustment of wages, admitting that China's labor force has gradually lost its competitive edge.
"China's future economy cannot rely on intensive labor, and we should turn to innovation and technology," Huang Wenzheng, an expert on demographics, told the Global Times.
He attributed the slow increase in minimum wages in the recent years to China's slowing economy, with the enterprises facing the pressure of rising labor cost.
"The growing labor cost is also related to the family planning policy. The policy, which had restricted couples to one child for three decades, has led to a continuous shrinking of China's working-age population," Huang noted.
China's working-age population is predicted to drop to 56.9 percent of the total population in 2030, according to data provided by the Population and Development Studies Center of the Renmin University of China in 2016.
Su Hainan, vice president of the China Association for Labor Studies, told the chinanews.com that adjustments in minimum wages should seek a balance, as accelerating the increase may push unemployment up as enterprises cannot handle the cost pressure.