Salaries grew slower and pay disparities between various industries rose last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said yesterday.
Salary increases for urban employees were down 1.5 percentage points in 2008, with average salary before tax at 29,229 yuan ($4,280). The survey did not cover private enterprises or individual businesses.
"The salary growth is relatively high given the backdrop of a global economic slowdown," said Su Hainan, director of the wage committee of the China Association of Labor Studies.
"But as people earn more, they more than ever need an improved social security system so that they can spend more to expand domestic consumption."
Su forecast pay increases of 13 percent this year while a report by the Hong Kong based HR Business Solutions predicted salary rises of around 11 percent on the mainland.
The NBS report also showed that the gap between eastern and western/central regions is narrowing, which Su described as a "good sign".
This is partly because export-oriented enterprises in the eastern and coastal regions were the hardest hit in the financial crisis, leading to millions of layoffs.
The report also found the salary divide between the highest and lowest paid industries has widened, with the former 10 times more than the latter.
Salaries in the securities sector were 172,123 yuan, 5.9 times the average level. Employees in timber processing and wood and bamboo products were the lowest paid, with a salary of 15,663 yuan.