'Incensed by a lack of jobs and low pay while mainland labour floods in to drive Macau's casino boom - and accusing the government of corruption - the protesters mounted the most direct challenge yet to Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah, calling on him to step down.' SCMP, May 2 Icannot substantiate that bit about government corruption, although historically I don't think anyone ever bothered to do so in Macau. It has always been taken as a given. I can, however, substantiate the complaints about low pay and immigrant labour. Pardon me if you remember seeing the first chart here only a short while ago in this column but when a chart makes a strong point I think it worth repeating. It is certainly worth repeating in the context of the so-called riots in Macau. This is a town that operates on a fascist economy and Macanese workers have reason to protest. The red line in the chart represents Macau's gross domestic product per capita in pataca of the day terms. It is shown here as an index with a base of 100 for December 1999, the month of the handover to Chinese sovereignty. Since that time, GDP per capita in Macau has more than doubled. Now look at the blue line. It represents pay for workers in Macau's gambling dens. There is no doubling here. Using that same index base of 100 for December 1999, these people were paid 138.20 at the end of 2006, seven years later. This works out to a compound average gain of less than 5 per cent a year, which is not much when you remember that these pay figures are expressed in pataca of the day terms, which are not adjusted for inflation, and inflation in Macau is now running at 5 per cent a year. But gambling workers are among the best paid workers in Macau. Look at the green line. It represents the average pay of service and sales workers and this, over the seven years of Macau's existence as a special administrative region, has gone from 100 to only 113.7, a compound average gain of less than 2 per cent a year. Macau's economy has grown rich. Macau's workers have not. The money has gone elsewhere, mostly into the pockets of casino operators, although others undoubtedly also benefited. I think it safe to assume that the operative rule here required only that the money go into pockets that were already well-filled, as I say, a fascist economy. This obviously leaves you with a question, however. In normal circumstances any economy that has boomed as much as Macau's has done would soon encounter a shortage of workers and wages would rocket up as employers competed for the few idle hands left to employ. Why has this not happened in Macau? The second chart gives you the answer to this question. Macau just imported the workers, mostly from the mainland but also quite substantially from Hong Kong, which seems unusual but I suppose was done to get English-speaking hotel staff. Over the past two years alone, the proportion of non-resident workers on the employment rolls has doubled from 12 per cent to 24 per cent. Over that period, 57,000 new jobs were created in Macau, quite an achievement from a base of 229,000 jobs. Three-quarters of these new jobs, however, were filled by immigrant workers. Take note here also that we are talking only of declared foreign workers. I am far from confident that all non-Macanese workers declared themselves. The immigrant effect is almost certainly even greater than the figures suggest. And undoubtedly this did a great deal to keep wages down. That's why I think it can be taken as no surprise that Macanese workers staged a protest on Labour Day. It could even have been enough to make them riot. But they didn't really. It was Macau's police who came closer to doing that.