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China Economy

It’s official: China’s highest-paying jobs have shifted to tech from finance

Average wages in China’s information technology industry are higher than those in finance for the first time since 2008, when data became available

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 May, 2017, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 May, 2017, 11:16pm

In a trend that is similar to Silicon Valley’s wage levels catching up to Wall Street’s, average salaries in China’s information technology industry have exceeded those in the financial sector for the first time since 2008, according to data from China’s statistics agency.

Average annual income in China’s information transmission, software and information technology fields last year was 122,478 yuan (HK$139,114) per person, surpassing average annual income of 117,418 yuan in banking, brokerage and insurance, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said.

It was the first time that the technology sector’s wage level was higher than finance’s since industry-specific wage data became available in 2008.

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Finance had been the top-paying industry in China for eight straight years, causing jobs with state banks to be known as “gold rice bowls”. But those gold rice bowls have been losing their shine as revenues and profits stagnate. China’s big four state-owned banks quietly slashed a collective 19,000 jobs last year.

For the past eight years, the financial industry has topped the list of businesses with the highest average annual income, closely followed by the information industry. In 2015, salaries in the two industries drew closer together, with financial employees earning 114,777 yuan per year and tech people 112,042 yuan.

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Meng Canwen, the national statistics agency’s chief statistician, said salaries have increased in the tech industry largely because of consistent and rapid growth.

Financial-industry income has been affected by salary restrictions on senior bank officials and by the stock market’s downturn, he added.

Agriculture, forestry, husbandry and fishing had the lowest annual incomes last year – 33,612 yuan, or almost half the average annual salary for all industries.

Industries seeing highest income growth last year were public administration, social security and organisation, education, health and social work, according to the statistics.