New Income Data Reveals Stark Wealth Disparities Between Chinese Regions and Sectors

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The latest official income data from China points to gaping disparities in average annual incomes between the country’s different regions and economic sectors.

According to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics China’s average urban annual income for the country as a whole was 67,569 yuan (USD$10,045.94) for public sector employees and 42,833 yuan ($6368.27) for private sector employees in 2016, for year-on-year growth of 8.9% and 8.2% respectively.

The NBS data points to huge disparities by region, with an average annual urban private sector income of 65,881 yuan in Beijing, which is more than twice the amount of 30,184 yuan for Jilin province.

Beijing, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Jiangsu, all of which are situated on the eastern coast, were host to China’s most well-paid workers in 2016, with average urban public sector salaries of 119,927 yuan, 73,326 yuan, 72,326 yuan and 71,574 yuan respectively, for growth of 7.7%, 10.0%, 9.9% and 8.1%.

The average private sector salaries of these cities were 65,881 yuan, 45,005 yuan, 48,236 yuan and 47,156 yuan respectively, for growth of 12.3%, 9%, 7.6% and 79%.

Inland China was host to the lowest wage levels, with public sector urban workers in Anhui, Hunan, and Jiangxi posting annual incomes of 59,102 yuan, 58,241 yuan, 56,136 yuan respectively, for year-on-year growth of 7.2%, 11.2% and 10.2%.

Private sector incomes in these provinces were 39,110 yuan, 34,582 yuan and 36,868 yuan respectively, for growth of 5.3%, 4.7% and 10.6%.

The NBS data also indicates that wealthier cities are seeing more rapid wage growth, with private sector wages rising by 12.3% in Beijing last year, as compared to increases of 1.7% and 4.4% in Inner Mongolia and Ningxia respectively.

When broken down by region, eastern China is host to the highest urban incomes as well as the most rapidly increasing wages, followed by western China then central China, with the north-east coming in last.

The average public sector urban annual income for eastern China was 77,013 yuan last year, for growth of 9.15%, as compared to 62,453 yuan for western China (growth of 7.5%), 55,299 yuan for central China (growth of 8.8%) and 54,872 yuan for the north-east (growth of 7.5%).

The average private sector urban annual income for eastern China was 47,347 yuan in 2016, for growth of 9.0%, as compared to 39,047 yuan for western China (growth of 7.0%), 35,000 for central China (growth of 9.00%) and 33,184 yuan for the north-east (growth of 3.10%).

Renowned economist Thomas Piketty recently published a study that concludes breakneck economic development in China had led to a worsening level of wealth inequality, which is currently on track to soon catch up with the United States.

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