A survey of more than two dozen urban areas on the mainland has found salaries are highest in Guangzhou, where employees receive an average of 57,473 yuan (HK$70,150) a year. The Guangdong capital was followed by the national capital Beijing and Nanjing , where the figure was 56,061 yuan and 54,713 yuan respectively. The figures were based on data about income levels for last year compiled by the cities' statistics bureaus, and the rankings were done by China News Service, which reported the findings yesterday. Only employees whose registered residence was in a city were included, meaning migrant workers' pay was excluded. Twenty-two provincial capitals and four municipalities were studied. Five other capitals - Urumqi , Nanning , Lanzhou , Lhasa and Haikou - have yet to publish their figures. Shanghai ranked fifth in the survey, while Chengdu in Sichuan province recorded the lowest remuneration - 34,008 yuan a year. However, Sammy Qu, a consultant with a Hong Kong-based headhunting company, cautioned that the rankings might not be precise as the figures were based on data from a city's own statistics bureau. "The rankings could be used as a reference but might not reflect the actual situation, as we don't know if the samples were collected identically by each city," Qu said. She was speaking privately and not as a representative of her company. The National Bureau of Statistics said in May that national annual income for city workers last year averaged 42,452 yuan. Salaries in eastern cities were higher than those in the heartland and western region. Again, those figures exclude what migrant workers are paid. The China News Service survey found salary levels in 11 cities were higher than the national average. Although the national average salary was up 14.3 per cent compared to 2010, not all workers would be enjoying the boost, said Feng Nailin , an official with the bureau, in an interview published on its website. "The growth rate varies across different industries and regions," he said. Chi Fulin , with the China Institute for Reform and Development, a think-tank based in Haikou, said salary levels paid by industries that had a monopoly, such as resources and telecoms, should be limited, to ensure equal distribution of income. "These industries - especially some state-owned companies - took a lion's share of the total income earned by urban employees. Some research shows only 8 per cent of the employees are from these monopolised industries, but their income takes up about 50 per cent of the total," Chi said. Requiring officials to publish their income levels and empowering the bargaining rights of workers would help the nation reform income distribution. In March, during the annual session of the National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to publish a master plan on reforming income distribution within the year.