How much do Chinese production workers earn. While asking the question is easy in a country that derives part of its competitive edge from low wages, giving an answer is a bit tougher. In a recent Mercer HR Consulting report the average monthly salary is put at just under 1,500 Renminbi (€ 150) and CSR-Asia slashes the figure.
1) it doesn’t put it into context (i.e., how does it compare to average wages in comparable job categories? what is the spending power of that wage? etc); 2) it doesn’t indicate how many hours employees need to work to earn that (i.e., do they need to put in 100 or more hours a week in workplaces where temperatures constantly hover around 40℃ and more - as is the reported case in this story (in Chinese) about a woman dying of heat stroke in a textile factory last week in Fujian [more on this later]); and 3) it’s just plain wrong.In the factories CSR-Asia advises nobody earns that much, they say. Most of these reports, also those by Hewitt CS. get their figures from foreign invested companies in China and they tend to overpay, well, compared to other categories of companies that is.
The wage-figures we use at the wage-indicator is not going to relying on surveys of (often foreign) companies, but on online surveys by the employees. Those figures in itself will never give a representative overview of the whole labor force, but according to the scientists who analyse the figures for other countries when we have 50 questionnaires for a certain occupation, those data will be scientifically valid.
Encouraging people to fill in not only online but also offline questionnaires can expand the reach beyond those who are online.
Main challenge in China will be to cover the diversity inside the country. A production worker in the Pearl River Delta has always been perceived to earn less than those in the Yangze Delta, but that would be based on anecdotical evidence. For the rest of the country it would even be harder to get those data, at least you will need for each region those 50 surveys to make valid assumptions.