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March 3, 2011

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Minimum wages set to increase

Shanghai is to raise the minimum monthly wage by 14 percent to 1,280 yuan (US$195) from April 1, the city government said yesterday.

At the same time, the minimum hourly wage will rise to 11 yuan from 9 yuan.

In January, Mayor Han Zheng promised that minimum wages would be increased by more than 10 percent this year due to the city's soaring cost of living and rapid development.

"Our citizens should enjoy the developing results of the city and enterprises," he said.

After the adjustment, minimum wages in the city would top that of other provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, according to a government notice.

The Chinese government is encouraging wage rises as it wants to boost consumer spending and reduce the economy's reliance on exports.

Beijing raised its minimum wage from the beginning of the year by about 20 percent from the previous 960 yuan.

Neighboring Jiangsu Province as well as the cities of Guangzhou and Dongguan in southern China also raised their minimum wages.

Last year, the increase was also 160 yuan. Shanghai usually raises minimum wages each year, except for 2009 when the city was badly hit by the global economic crisis.

Bao Danru, vice director of the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, said the minimum wage system applied to everyone working in the city, including its 4 million plus migrant workers.

Along with the rise in minimum wages, unemployment insurance, paid by employers, is to rise to 730 yuan.

Xi Jianghuai, 22, a migrant worker from Jiangsu Province, found a job in the city earlier this week with a monthly income of 1,500 yuan. "I don't think my wage can cover my basic living expenses, not to mention the minimum wage," he said. However, he was happy that the minimum wage was being raised.

A local resident surnamed Tang said he was planning to offer his ayi an increase to her current 12 yuan per hour, although that was already higher than the minimum.

"The increase won't be much for us, and we just hope the ayi will work hard if the salary is sufficient," Tang said.

According to official statistics, per capita disposable income of urban residents nationwide was 19,109 yuan in 2010, an increase of 7.8 percent from 2009; per capita income in rural areas was 5,919 yuan, up 10.9 percent.


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