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Source: Hong Kong Government special administrative region

Overall wage and payroll statistics     According to the figures released today (September 26) by the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the average wage rate for all the selected industry sections surveyed, as measured by the wage index, increased by 3.8% in nominal terms in June 2019 over a year earlier.       About 65% of the companies reported increase in average wage rates in June 2019 compared with a year ago. 33% of the companies recorded decrease in average wage rates over the same period. The remaining 2% reported virtually no change in average wage rates.     After discounting the changes in consumer prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index (A), the overall average wage rate for all the selected industry sections surveyed decreased by 0.1% in real terms in June 2019 over a year earlier.     As for payroll, the index of payroll per person engaged for all the industry sections surveyed increased by 4.1% in nominal terms in the second quarter of 2019 over a year earlier.       After discounting the changes in consumer prices as measured by the Composite Consumer Price Index, the average payroll per person engaged increased by 1.1% in real terms in the second quarter of 2019 compared with a year earlier.     The wage rate includes basic wages and other regular and guaranteed allowances and bonuses. Payroll includes elements covered by wage rate as well as other irregular payments to workers such as discretionary bonuses and overtime allowances. The payroll statistics therefore tend to show relatively larger quarter-to-quarter changes, affected by the number of hours actually worked and the timing of payment of bonuses and back-pay.Sectoral changes     For the nominal wage indices, year-on-year increases were recorded in all selected industry sections in June 2019, ranging from 2.5% to 5.4%.     For the real wage indices, year-on-year increases were recorded in the transportation section; accommodation and food service activities section; real estate leasing and maintenance management section and personal services section in June 2019, ranging from 0.1% to 1.4%. On the other hand, year-on-year decreases ranging from 0.1% to 1.3% were recorded in the manufacturing section; import/export, wholesale and retail trades section and financial and insurance activities section. The real wage index for the professional and business services section remained virtually unchanged when compared with that in June 2018.     The year-on-year changes in the nominal and real wage indices for the selected industry sections from June 2018 to June 2019 are shown in Table 1.     As for the nominal indices of payroll per person engaged, year-on-year increases were recorded in all selected industry sections in the second quarter of 2019, ranging from 2.5% to 5.3%.     For the real payroll indices, year-on-year increases were recorded in all selected industry sections in the second quarter of 2019, ranging from 0.2% to 2.3%, except the import/export and wholesale trades section and retail trade section where year-on-year decreases of 0.3% and 0.4% were recorded respectively.     The year-on-year changes in the nominal and real indices of payroll per person engaged for selected industry sections from the second quarter of 2018 to the second quarter of 2019 are shown in Table 2. The quarterly changes in the seasonally adjusted nominal and real indices of payroll per person engaged between the second quarter of 2018 and the second quarter of 2019 are shown in Table 3.Commentary      A Government spokesman noted that nominal wages stayed on the rise in June 2019 when compared with a year ago. However, due to the higher inflation rate in June driven by the surge in pork prices, overall real wages recorded a marginal year-on-year decline.     Payroll per person engaged, which also covers discretionary bonuses and other irregular payments, sustained a year-on-year increase in nominal terms in the second quarter of 2019, with continued improvement in real terms after adjusting for inflation. Many major sectors recorded solid gains in payroll. Yet, import/export and wholesale trades, and retail trade continued to see relatively modest payroll growth amid the subdued performances of the respective sectors.     The spokesman added that the near-term earnings outlook will unavoidably be subject to increasing pressure as the economic conditions have deteriorated further lately. The Government will monitor the developments closely, particularly the earnings situation of grassroots workers.Other information     Both wage indices and payroll indices are compiled quarterly based on the results of the Labour Earnings Survey (LES) conducted by the C&SD.       Wage statistics are conceptually different from the payroll statistics. Firstly, wage rate for an employee refers to the sum earned for his normal hours of work. It covers basic wages and other regular and guaranteed allowances and bonuses, but excludes earnings from overtime work and discretionary bonuses, which are however included in payroll per person engaged. Secondly, the payroll index of an industry is an indicator of the simple average payroll received per person engaged in the industry. Its movement is therefore affected by changes in wage rates, number of hours of work and occupational composition in the industry. In contrast, the wage index of an industry is devised to reflect the pure changes in wage rate, with the occupational composition between two successive statistical periods being kept unchanged. In other words, the wage index reflects the change in the price of labour. Thirdly, wage index only covers employees up to the supervisory level (i.e. not including managerial and professional employees), whereas payroll index covers employees at all levels and proprietors actively engaged in the work of the establishment. Because of these conceptual and enumeration differences between payroll and wage statistics, the movements in payroll indices and in wage indices do not necessarily match closely with each other.     It should also be noted that different consumer price indices are used for compiling the real indices of wage and payroll to take into account the differences in their respective occupation coverage. Specifically, the Composite Consumer Price Index, being an indicator of overall consumer prices, is taken as the price deflator for payroll of workers at all levels of the occupational hierarchy. The Consumer Price Index (A), being an indicator of consumer prices for the relatively low expenditure group, is taken as the price deflator for wages in respect of employees engaged in occupations up to the supervisory level.     Detailed breakdowns of the payroll and wage statistics are published in the “Quarterly Report of Wage and Payroll Statistics, June 2019”. Users can download this publication free of charge from the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp210.jsp?productCode=B1050009).     For enquiries on wage and payroll statistics, please contact the Wages and Labour Costs Statistics Section (1) of the C&SD (Tel: 2887 5550 or email: wage@censtatd.gov.hk).

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