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January-February real wages hit 16-year low

TAIPEI--While the average earnings of employees in the industrial and service sectors in January and February hit record highs in recent years, the average real wages were lower than the level registered 16 years ago due to an increase of 3.8 percent in the consumer price index (CPI) for the two-month period, according to official data.

The average total employee income in the first two months, including both regular and irregular earnings, was NT$65,028 (US$2,147), a 6.36 percent growth over the same period of last year, but after deducting the 0.38 percent CPI increase, the average real wages were NT$63,103, a 5.95 percent increase year-on-year, according to statistics published Tuesday by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

While the average earnings over the two months registered an increase of 13.74 percent from the 1998 level, the CPI grew 17.58 percent during the period, leading to the average real wages being 3.27 percent lower than in 1998.

The average regular income in February was NT$37,534, which was 1.06 percent less than the previous month and 1.34 percent more than the same month of last year, according to the DGBAS.

This estimate of real wage growth is after deducting all the items calculated in CPI inflation from the nominal wage growth, according to the DGBAS.

Average earnings (including regular and irregular earnings) were NT$41,751 in February, which was 52.71 percent less than the previous month and 32.97 percent less than the same month of last year.

Meanwhile, thanks to year-end bonuses and performance bonuses granted in January and a stable economic recovery, the average regular earnings in the first two months of this year reached a high of NT$37,736, a 1.27 percent growth year-on-year, while the average irregular earnings (including year-end, performance bonuses and overtime pay) were NT$27,292, a 14.28 percent increase year-on-year, the statistics show.

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