Despite the severest economic crisis in decades, Beijing and Shanghai continued to significantly increase workers' salaries last year, according to official statistics.
In Beijing, workers earned on an average 44,715 yuan ($6,570) last year, 4,848 yuan more, or a 12 percent increase, than in 2007, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics.
In Shanghai, the average monthly salary last year was 3,292 yuan, a 400-yuan, or 13.8-percent, jump from 2007, according to the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau.
Beijing's statistics bureau, covering 138,000 units, including State-owned, private, foreign-funded and joint ventures, also revealed a sharp difference in incomes in various industries.
Among all the industries, stockbrokers earned the maximum salary last year, with some top executives making more than 1 million yuan.
People working in financing, banking, maritime transport, air transport, insurance, tobacco, radio, TV, film and audio industries, earned an average wage of more than 100,000 yuan.
Telecommunications, computer service, and software industries are next on the list, with employees earning between 80,000 and 100,000 yuan on average.
The poorest group was workers in clothing, footwear and headgear industry, who earned less than 20,000 yuan on an average.
But, in the same industry, salaries of employees at various levels vary dramatically. For example, in the securities industry, the annual incomes range from less than 50,000 yuan to more than 1 million yuan.
The revelation has provoked wide discussions.
"I first thought it was impossible that people's salaries could vary so drastically," said Lin Nan, who works in a Beijing-based exhibition firm. "I did not get any raise in my salary last year.
"Clearly, the survey does not show the true picture. Possibly, only a small group of filthy rich employees have been interviewed, and they're showing a jump in everyone's salary."
Zhu Qingyang, secretary general of Shanghai Human Resources Consulting Association, said she believed that Shanghai's introduction of more international financial professionals last year helped raise the level of salaries.
"Shanghai has been trying to develop more high-end sectors like consulting, financial and technology research by attracting top talents from around the world. The city's efforts to optimize its industry structure can also be attributed for the increase," he said.