Seventy-seven per cent of 551 firms surveyed will freeze their wage bills, according to a study car ried out by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. Measures taken to contain wage increases in clude blanket salary freezes or linking pay to pro ductivity and performance. Of 3,800 questionnaires sent out, the 551 re turned represented a response rate of 14.5 per cent. Wage levels were too high, said 88 per cent of respondents, while 12 per cent said salaries were reasonable. Only 11 per cent expected to increase staff levels this year, with 32 per cent hoping to cut staff and 57 per cent seeing no change. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate hit 5.8 per cent last month, with the number of jobless peo ple swelling to more than 200,000. Government officials said sackings at Lunar New Year, an expected increase in bankruptcies and a slowdown in the United States and Europe an economies could push the jobless rate higher.