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Feature: Occupational income gap widening

06-30-2010 13:46 BJT

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Now we continue our series report "closing the gap". Complaints about slow wage rises are growing in China. There is also confusion about a huge occupational income gap. The difference has increased dramatically since 2000, and is still rising. In today's special report on distributional reform, Wang Mangmang talks to people working in two very different industries.

Jin Sisi works for an American company in downtown Beijing. This is her third job. She has made her way up from receptionist to administrative assistant. Jin makes over eight thousand yuan per month, six times more than when she started.

But for her, it's not easy to be a so-called white collar worker.

Administrative assistant Jin Sisi said, "The working environment is fine. But there's also huge pressure. It's very normal to put in extra hours. Our wages may differ from company to company, but are roughly on the same level. You have to be promoted in order to make more money."

Busy city life is what keeps the young lady going. But sometimes she wonders how far she can go, and what she'll end up with.

Jin Sisi said, "I know I'm lucky to make enough money for my daily needs. And I can save some, too. But for anyone thinking about buying a house or raising a kid, it's far from enough."

Statistics show that finance is the highest-grossing industry, offering about two point nine times the salaries of the accommodation and catering sectors, which are the lowest-paid occupations.

Over the past 15 years, China has seen a dramatic increase in the occupational income gap. There is rising concern that this difference is a key factor in the nation's huge wealth gap. That's why it's time for a change.

The country's income distribution system is, in fact, widening the gap between the rich and the poor. As China faces a new wave of reforms, the government needs to ensure not only sustainability, but also fairness. Hundreds of millions of Chinese still work for low wages. They may have powered China's economic development, but they can hardly afford all they need.

Cao Jun is an express delivery man. He makes about two thousand yuan per month, but decided to spend the first payment on this motorbike. It allows for easier, faster, and more-numerous deliveries. He gets 0.30 yuan for each piece.

This higher-end residential area is Cao Jun's working territory. Experience has enabled him to formulate his own philosophy on wealth accumulation.

Express delivery man Cao Jun said, "Competition is quite fierce in this field. You can't look at how much you gain from every single delivery. Credibility is important. It'll give you more customers."

Going to different places, and meeting different people, is what Cao likes about this job. He thinks it's a lot of work ... but also fun.

Cao Jun said, "I used to work in a light bulb factory. It was boring to do the same thing every day. Now I'm happier. Everything is fine except for wages. Getting a better-paying job is very difficult for me."

Many workers share the same feeling. The occupational income gap in China is now significantly wider than in most industrialized countries. The figures are even more alarming in specific terms.

"If we look at each sector in sub-categories, the occupational income gap can sometimes be as much as tenfold. This means we must deepen reforms in a market economy. For example, break up monopolies. Bridging the income gap is crucial for bridging other gaps."

It's widely hoped that reform can give people like Cao Jun a more equal standing in society.

Editor:Zhang Ning |Source:

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