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Hong Kong workers expected to see higher salary increase in 2023

  • Workers in Hong Kong are expected to receive a salary increase of 4% in 2023, 0.5% higher than 2022.
  • After taking inflation into account, the real forecast salary increase in Hong Kong will be 1.6% next year, the same as 2022.
  • Salaries for Hong Kong employees increased at the fifth fastest rate in real terms in APAC in 2022.

According to the latest Salary Trends Report by ECA International (ECA), real wage growth, which is equal to nominal wage growth minus the rate of inflation, was 1.6% in 2022 and is expected to be the same in 2023.  

ECA International is the world’s leading provider of information, software and expertise for the management and assignment of employees around the world. The annual Salary Trends report analyses current and projected salary increases in 68 countries and cities across the world.

In nominal terms, salaries for workers in Hong Kong rose 3.5% in 2022 and are forecast to increase by a further 4.0% in 2023. Workers in Hong Kong have also benefited from low inflation compared to their APAC and global counterparts and will therefore experience real salary increases this year and next. Even though inflation is expected to rise next year from 1.9% to 2.4% and cancel out the benefits of the larger nominal pay rises, buying power will rise faster than many locations globally.

“Salary growth has been undimmed by the ongoing economic challenges the Hong Kong economy is experiencing,” said Lee Quane, Regional Director, Asia for ECA. “The average pay rise of 3.5% is significantly higher than the 2.5% pay rise workers received in 2021 and the rate of pay growth is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023. Hong Kong workers will also benefit from the low rates of inflation relative to elsewhere in the world. Real wage growth of 1.6% in 2022 is the fifth highest in the region and significantly higher than Singapore where real salaries fell by 1.7% in in 2022.”

Asia highlights

Workers in the region can be happy that the APAC region continues to outperform the rest of the world in 2022 in terms of real salary increase. Eight out of the top ten countries with the highest real salary increases globally are from the APAC region. The average real salary increase in the region is predicted to be 1.3% in 2023, which is 1% more than this year, and will again lead the way as globally salaries are forecast to fall by 0.5% in real terms next year.

Most locations surveyed in the APAC region are expected to see the same or higher rates of salary growth in real terms in 2023 when compared with 2022, with only Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan being the exceptions.

In Sri Lanka, the ongoing economic crisis continues to impact its workers. Although Sri Lankans received a nominal salary increase of 7.5%, which was the fourth highest in the region, their salaries are 40.7% lower than in 2021 once high rates of inflation are taken into consideration. Although lower rates of inflation are expected next year and salaries will grow at a faster rate in nominal terms, employees will still see their salaries fall by a further 20.5% in real terms. 

“High rates of inflation meant that workers in most locations worldwide were worse off as salaries fell in real terms in 2022,” said Quane. “On average salaries fell by 3.8% in real terms in 2022 with workers in over 50 of the countries we survey experiencing a fall in salaries in real terms. However, this trend was most pronounced in Sri Lanka where economic turmoil has led to exceptionally high rates of inflation which has caused those lucky enough to keep their jobs in the economic turmoil to lose more than 40% of their buying power in one year.” 

Workers in Singapore received a salary increase of 3.8% in 2022 in nominal terms and this rate of growth is forecast to rise further to 4.0% next year. Inflation in Singapore this year is 5.5%, similar to the average rate of inflation in the region, and is expected to fall to 3.0% in 2023. Therefore, in real terms, salaries fell by 1.7% in 2022 but will grow by 1.0% next year, although this will be lower than the average of rate of growth of 1.3% in APAC in 2023.

“Although salary growth in 2022 was higher in Singapore than in recent years, a surge in inflation means many will be worse off,” Quane said. “Salaries will fall by almost 2% this year in real terms but workers in Singapore are not alone as those in eight other countries in the region will also experience a fall in the buying power of their salaries in 2022. The good news is that we expect to see a return to real salary growth in 2023 although it will continue to be modest compared to elsewhere in the region.”

Workers in China continue to be amongst those who receive the highest rates of real salary growth. In nominal terms, salaries increased by 5.9% in 2022 and will grow by a further 6.0% 2023. Although nominal salary increase rates in China are not amongst the highest in the region, low rates of inflation mean that workers in China received the highest rate of salary growth in real terms globally in 2022 and will be in the top three in 2023.

Meanwhile, in Taiwan, salaries are predicted to increase by 4.0% in 2023 in nominal terms – a slight rise compared to 3.7% this year. After factoring in inflation, the real rate of salary growth is forecast to triple from 0.6% this year to 1.8% in 2023.

“Workers in greater China will all benefit from real salary growth in both 2022 and 2023, with those based in mainland China experiencing the highest rates of growth in both years in real terms”, said Quane. “Workers in all locations have benefitted from low rates of inflation and are amongst a small group globally who will see real salary growth in both 2022 and 2023.” 

Within South-East Asia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand are all expected to see higher rates of real salary growth in 2023 in comparison with 2022 as the post-pandemic economic recovery is expected to continue and inflation rates are expected to fall. Contrary to predictions in 2021, workers in Thailand did not see a real salary increase this year. Rather, real salaries fell by 1.8% owing to higher than anticipated rates of inflation. However, in 2023 workers will benefit both from larger salary increases and lower rates of inflation, which will result in the fourth highest rate of salary growth in 2023 in the region in real terms. 

“Overall, workers in many ASEAN locations will see real salary growth in both 2022 and 2023,” said Quane. “Workers based in Vietnam benefitted from having the second highest rate of salary in growth in real terms in 2022 in the region and are expected to do so again in 2023. Workers in other locations, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, will also benefit from solid growth in salaries in real terms in both years.  However, it is not good news throughout the region as their counterparts in Laos and Myanmar, which have been impacted by economic and political problems, will experience a significant decline in their salaries in real terms in both years as inflation impacts their economies more than elsewhere in the region.

Global highlights

From a global perspective, the average salary increase was 4.0% this year and is forecast to rise to 5% in 2023.  With inflation increasing significantly in 2022, 78% of countries surveyed recorded a real salary decrease, and no European country saw a real-terms salary increase. Even though the global situation is expected to improve next year with higher nominal salary increases and lower inflation on average, a 0.5% decrease in real terms is still expected.

“Our survey indicates another tough year for workers globally in 2023,” commented Quane. “Only around a third (37%) of the countries surveyed are forecast to see real-terms salary increase, though this is better than the 22% that experienced increases this year. India will see the biggest increase of 4.6%, followed by Vietnam (4.0%) and China (3.8%).”

Top ten forecast real salary increases – Asia Pacific

2023 forecast real salary increase (%)
2022 real salary increase (%)
Hong Kong

Notes to Editors

About ECA’s Salary Trends Survey

The information above was taken from ECA's Salary Trends Survey 2022/2023. The survey reports current-year salary increases for local national employees and the anticipated increases for reviews in the forthcoming year. It is based on information collected from over 360 multinational companies for 68 countries and cities. Reports are available free to all participants or for purchase either as a set or individually per country for non-participants from the ECA website.

The forecast average real salary increase in a country is calculated by looking at the predicted average nominal salary percentage increase (i.e. the salary increase given to employees by their employers) and subtracting the forecast inflation. E.g. if the average nominal salary increase in a country is 4% and inflation is at 2.1%, this would result in an average real salary increase of 1.9% (4%-2.1%=1.9%).

Data is based on increases including merit. Including merit is the total salary increase and represents general cost of living/inflationary increases plus performance/merit related increases. The data above was collected from August to September 2022. 

The survey included data from all seniorities across the following industry groups which included Energy, mining & petrochemicals; Chemical & pharmaceutical; Transport & logistics; Manufacturing & consumer goods; Legal & professional services; Engineering & technology; Retail, leisure & other services; Financial services; Non-profit.

About ECA International 

ECA International is the market-leading provider of knowledge, information and technology that enables businesses to manage their international reward programmes.

Partnering with thousands of clients on every continent, we provide a fully integrated suite of quality data, specialist software, consultancy and training. Our unparalleled insights guide clients as they mobilise their most valuable resource: people.

We make the complex world of international mobility simple, providing clients with the expertise and support they need to make the right decisions - every time.

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Tweety Chan
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Cherie Cheung
Tel: +852 3002 3761 

Jenny Chiang

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