(BEIJING) Employers in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, are more willing to give pay raises than Asian counterparts, a private survey showed.

 About 72 per cent of employers in mainland China reported increasing salaries last year by more than 6 per cent in white collar jobs including banking, insurance and programming, according to UK recruiter Hays plc.

That compares with 21 per cent of companies in Hong Kong and Singapore and 7 per cent in Japan, Hays said in the survey of more than 900 employers in Asia conducted in November.

The report underscores how growth in the world's second-largest economy is outpacing other parts of Asia. China is forecast by the International Monetary Fund to expand more than twice as fast as the rest of the world this year even as Europe's debt crisis threatens the global recovery.

'China was the standout in terms of salary increases in the region,' the report said. 'Despite current global economic conditions, the outlook in Asia remains positive and we expect to see many businesses across the region going ahead with aggressive growth targets and securing key talents to drive expansion plans in 2012.'

In China, 81 per cent of employers are planning to increase salaries by more than 6 per cent when they next review pay, compared with an average of 32 per cent across the surveyed region, according to Hays, which specialises in placing people in white collar jobs. The survey also covered workers in accounting, law, human resources, education and architecture.

The stronger China's economy is, the more upward pressure on salaries, Nigel Heap, managing director for Hays Asia Pacific, said yesterday.

The survey found 64 per cent of Asia employers responding expect their business to grow in the next 12 months and 41 per cent say their 'permanent staff levels' will rise.

In China, jobs in accounting and finance will see a 'steady increase' this year as multinational companies add local managers, Hays said. Most employers in the industry are willing to increase salaries by 10 per cent to 15 per cent to 'secure the right candidate', according to the survey.

In banking, most employers in China are willing to pay 15 per cent to 20 per cent above market rates to hire the best people, Hays said.

China's annual average growth of minimum wages should be at least 13 per cent in the five years to 2015, according to a government job market plan for the period published yesterday.

Raising pay is key to the jobs blueprint, part of Beijing's 12th five-year economic plan, which aims to boost employment in the world's No 2 economy.

Minimum wages in China range from 1,500 yuan (S$297) per month in Shenzhen to 870 yuan in Chongqing. The government wants minimum wages to be 40 per cent of average local salaries by 2015, according to the plan posted on its website.

Labour shortages are a problem in China's main export manufacturing bases, requiring millions of migrant labourers to fill the gaps. But the government said it expected pressure from an overall labour oversupply to increase in coming years.

Demographic data shows the Chinese population is ageing quickly and the rural labour pool shrinking, which many economists cite as the fundamental reason for the sharp wage rises in recent years.

The average monthly wage of China's 158 million migrant workers in 2011 surged 21.2 per cent from 2010 to 2,049 yuan. In the five-year period from 2006 to 2010, the average minimum wage in China increased 12.5 per cent per year, official data showed. -- Bloomberg, Reuters