SURVEY COMPARES SALARY LEVELS THROUGHOUT ASIA
A recent survey conducted by Dezan Shira & Associates compared various human capital indicators between Asian countries. One finding of the survey was that professional-level salaries in Hong Kong are the highest in Asia While top executives working for foreign companies throughout Asia often earn as much or more than their counterparts in the US, the survey found that professional salaries on average in Hong Kong are still only about 42% of those in New York. The next highest Asian city on the list was Taipei, at around 36% of New York professional salary levels. Next on the list were Seoul, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Professional salary levels in Mumbai, India’s commercial center, were found to be only 6% of those in New York. The average white collar hourly wage in Mumbai is calculated to be only about US$1.20.
However, it is important for foreign companies doing business in Asia to understand the dynamics of the Asian labor market. Average salaries can be deceiving – while averages may be well below norms in major US cities, companies should take into consideration that employees often expect a significant premium on pay when working for foreign companies or when they are able to speak English. For example, while an experienced accounting manager working for a state-owned enterprise in Shanghai may expect a salary of only US$10K per year, a person with similar experience at a foreign-invested enterprise who speaks some English may demand as much as US$50K to $60K.
As mentioned in the previous article in this newsletter on Korea, foreign companies operating in Asia should also be familiar with workload expectations. While white collar workers in Seoul on average work more than 2,300 hours per year, the next longest-working among Asian cities are Hong Kong and Hanoi, with average annual working hours of around 2,200. Due to increased enforcement of labor regulations in China, annual working hours per employee in Beijing and Shanghai were significantly lower at only around 2,000.
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