Wages for workers up to supervisory level fell by 1.5 per cent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, outpacing the 0.9 per cent decrease in the second quarter, the government said yesterday. After making an adjustment for deflation, wages for lower paid clerical and other staff rose 2.8 per cent in the period, slower than the 3.1 per cent increase in the second quarter. These totals contrast with unemployment figures in the same period, when the size of the labour force grew by 3,200 to 3.5 million, outpaced by the growth in the number of jobs, which rose by 10,200 to 3.243 million. This suggests the number of people working grew but the average pay rate dropped. Slightly more than half of companies polled said they had seen a decline in their average wage rates for September compared to last year. Another 35 per cent said they had seen an increase in wage rates while 14 per cent reported no change. Wage rates include money earned for a normal working week along with guaranteed allowances and bonuses but exclude overtime pay and discretionary bonuses. People employed in the wholesale, retail and import/export businesses, as well as restaurants and hotels and personal services saw their wages decline by 1.5 to 3 per cent in September. Wages for those working in transport, financing, insurance, property and business services stayed flat. However, when deflation is taken into account, all major industries saw increases in pay levels. Hong Kong has experienced deflation for four consecutive years and the consumer price index has seen monthly declines ranging between about 2 and 4 per cent this year.