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Survey results of 2011 Annual Earnings and Hours Survey released

Monthly wages

     According to the statistics released today (March 22) by the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the median monthly wage of employees in Hong Kong (excluding employees in the Government as well as student interns, work experience students and live-in domestic workers as exempted by the Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO)) in May - June 2011 was $12,800.  This was 8.5% higher than the median of $11,800 in the second quarter of 2010.

     The change in monthly wage in 2011 when compared with 2010 is useful in reflecting the change in take-home pay of employees between these two years.
     In May - June 2011, the 10th, 25th, 75th and 90th percentile monthly wages of Hong Kong employees were $6,900, $9,000, $20,000 and $34,400 respectively.  They were 17.7%, 12.5%, 11.1% and 14.5% higher than the corresponding figures in the second quarter of 2010 (Table 1).  In general, lower-paid employees were observed to enjoy significant pay increase in May - June 2011 when compared with the second quarter of 2010.
     As shown in Table 2, increase in median monthly wage was generally observed for both male and female employees and across the board for all age groups, educational attainment levels, occupational groups and industry sections.
     In general, increase in monthly wage was more significant for employees with lower educational attainment, engaged in elementary occupations and belonging to lower income groups as well as for employees engaged in low-paying sectors, such as retail trade; restaurants; estate management, security and cleaning services; and miscellaneous activities (including elderly homes; laundry and dry cleaning services; hairdressing and other personal services; local courier services; and food processing and production).

Hourly wages

     The median hourly wage of employees in Hong Kong in May - June 2011 was $52.4.  

     The 10th, 25th, 75th and 90th percentile hourly wages were $29.3, $36.0, $82.5 and $143.9 respectively.  The overall hourly wage distribution of these employees is shown in Table 3.  The numbers of employees earning less than selected hourly wage levels are shown in Table 4.

     In May - June 2011, the median hourly wage for male employees was $57.5 while that for female employees was $47.1.  The median hourly wage of male employees was higher than that of female employees mainly because the proportion of male employees who had completed education at Secondary 6 or above level was higher than the corresponding proportion of female employees.

     Analysed by age group, the median hourly wage of employees at age 35 - 44 was the highest ($61.9), followed by employees at age 25 - 34 ($53.7).  The median hourly wage of employees at the youngest age group of 15 - 24 and the most senior age group of 55 and above were $37.0 and $46.6 respectively.

     The median hourly wages of employees of different sexes, age groups, educational attainment levels, occupational groups and industry sections are given in Table 5.

Hourly wages derived based on a method close to the one used in 2010

     The hourly wages for May - June 2011 presented above are compiled using a method which takes into account the definitions of hours worked and wages payable under the MWO, such that the data can be directly used for analyses related to the statutory minimum wage (SMW).  They are not directly comparable with the published hourly wage figures for years before 2011 which were compiled using a different calculation method when the MWO had not been implemented.

     To facilitate general comparison with the 2010 figures, a set of hourly wage statistics for May - June 2011 have been compiled based on a method close to the one used in 2010, as presented in Table 6.  When comparing this set of figures with those for April - June 2010, increases in hourly wage were generally observed at various percentiles of wage levels, with more significant increases for employees earning lower hourly wages.  

     Changes in hourly wage levels at different percentiles between successive surveys should be interpreted with care.  Apart from changes in definitions of hourly wage and working hours mentioned above, other factors such as salary revisions and changes in composition of employees in terms of experience and quality may also affect movements of wage levels.

     Despite the change in the calculation method of hourly wage in 2011, there is no change to the definition of monthly wage, which refers to the total monthly wage paid to an employee.  Hence, direct comparison of monthly wage figures between 2010 and 2011 is not affected.  

     As far as changes in take-home pay between 2010 and 2011 are concerned, monthly wage is more useful than hourly wage for comparison purpose.

Further information

     The above wage statistics were compiled based on the data obtained from the 2011 Annual Earnings and Hours Survey (AEHS).  The purpose of the survey is to provide comprehensive data on the level and distribution of wages, employment details and demographic profile of employees in Hong Kong.  These statistics are useful for studies on labour-related topics by the private sector and the Government.  They are also essential inputs for analysis related to SMW.  A sample of about 10 000 business undertakings was selected for the survey in 2011.

     The reference period of the 2011 AEHS was May - June 2011, while that of the previous round of the survey was the second quarter of 2010 (i.e. April - June 2010).  

     By changing the reference period, the 2011 survey results could reflect the wage distribution of employees after the implementation of SMW, which came into effect on May 1, 2011.

     "Wages" is defined to include basic wage, commission and tips not of gratuitous nature, guaranteed allowances and overtime allowance paid to an employee in the survey period.  It does not cover bonuses and allowances of gratuitous nature, end of year payment and payments in kind.  Number of working hours is the sum of contractual/agreed working hours (including meal breaks which are regarded as working hours according to the employment contract or agreement with the employer) and overtime hours worked at the direction of employers.  

     By arranging the hourly wages of all employees from the smallest to the largest value, the median hourly wage is the hourly wage of the employee who ranks in the middle of all the employees concerned.  In other words, the median hourly wage is the hourly wage value that delineates the lowest 50% of all the employees concerned.
     Percentile hourly wage figures are useful in discerning the distribution of hourly wage of employees.  The pth percentile hourly wage is the hourly wage value which delineates the lowest p% of all the employees concerned, where p can be any integer value from 1 to 99.  For instance, the 10th percentile hourly wage is the hourly wage value that delineates the lowest 10% of the employees.  The 25th percentile, 50th percentile and 75th percentile hourly wages are also known as the lower quartile, median and upper quartile hourly wages respectively.
     The median and the percentile monthly wage figures are derived similarly as the median and percentile hourly wage figures.

     Regarding the survey coverage, AEHS covers all business undertakings irrespective of their employment sizes and industries, except those engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing activities.  All employees of business undertakings falling within the scope of the survey who are under the coverage of the MWO are included in the survey.  Employees in the Government as well as student interns, work experience students and live-in domestic workers as exempted by the MWO are excluded.

     Details of the wage statistics compiled from the 2011 AEHS and the survey methodology are given in the 2011 Report on Annual Earnings and Hours Survey.  Users can download this publication free of charge from the website of the C&SD at .

     Enquiries concerning the survey results of AEHS can be directed to the Wages and Labour Costs Statistics Section (2) of the C&SD at 2887 5230.

Ends/Thursday, March 22, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:02


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