Salary increases have remained at low levels throughout the Asia Pacific this year, a survey by global human resources consultants He-witt Associates showed yesterday.
Hewitt said in a statement that projections for next year indicate pay rises will remain marginal, though fewer companies are expecting pay freezes.
The firm surveyed 991 foreign, locally-owned and joint-venture companies between July and September this year in 11 markets -- Taiwan, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
All showed an average overall salary increase for this year, with the highest rises in India, followed by South Korea, the Philippines and China.
"Although employees in countries with faster growing economies still saw reasonable pay rises, the increases are only slightly higher than those of the previous year," said Mick Bennett, Hewitt's regional managing director.
"Employers are still cautious over the slow pace of the economic recovery, and the outbreak of SARS earlier in the year may have had some impact on salary increases because there are fears the virus will return as the weather gets colder," he said.
In almost all cases, employers appear a little more confident about the direction of the economy next year, reflected in the projections for slightly higher salary increases next year.
Respondents in all countries projected, on average, salary increases for next year that were merely 1.0 percent higher than increases this year.
Nevertheless, far fewer companies are projecting pay freezes next year, Hewitt said.
As in the previous year, employees in the Indian software development industry were awarded the highest average salary increases, at 14 percent. This figure was 10 percentage points lower than the industry's average salary increase last year.
Excluding India, employees in the Philippines enjoyed the biggest average salary increases, ranging from 7.1 percent to 8.6 percent across job categories, compared with the respective figures of 6.4 percent to almost 10 percent last year.
In China, employees continued to enjoy average salary increases ranging from 6.7 percent to 7.3 percent, although those in senior/top management saw lower increases. The respective figures in China for last year were 6.5 percent and 8.7 percent.
In Singapore, the average overall salary increase budget for this year ranged from 2.1 percent to 2.4 percent, while Hong Kong's employees were left with increases in the range of just 1.3 percent to 1.5 percent. In Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia, average salary increases for this year ranged between 3 percent and 5 percent.