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High Tech Drives India To Highest Pay Raises In Asia

A Hewitt Associates study says workers in India received an average raise of 14%, though it's still one of the lowest-paying countries in Asia.
NEW DELHI (AP) -- Riding a wave of tech-driven success, Indian workers raked in the heftiest pay raises in Asia during 2003, a study by a U.S.-based human resources firm found.

According to a survey conducted by Hewitt Associates, a company headquartered in Chicago, Indian employees received an average raise of 14 percent in 2003, almost twice as much as the next closest nation, the Philippines.

The report, released on Tuesday, came as no surprise to those close to the high-tech industry in India.

"Salaries are going up across the board," said E. Balaji, a human resource head at Ma Foi Consultants in Bangalore.

"Two sectors very aggressive in this are the IT (information technology) and BPO (business process outsourcing) sectors," Balaji told The Associated Press from Bangalore, a hub for tech firms from India and abroad.

Companies in the Philippines came in second to India, registering average pay increases from 7.1 percent to 8.6 percent. In South Korea, pay hikes ranged from 7 percent to 7.3 percent, while in China, employees saw salaries jump from 6.7 percent to 7.3 percent.

While India ranked highest in salary increases, it still remains one of the lowest-paying countries in Asia. A 14 percent pay raise for a systems engineer for an Indian company in Bangalore, where such jobs earn $24,000 per year, will pull in roughly as much cash as a 5 percent raise for an employee in Tokyo earning $64,000 doing the same job.

Balaji said the influx of international companies to Bangalore and other Indian cities has created a tight job market, in particular for tech-savvy English speakers with a few years of IT or BPO job experience.

"Unless Indian companies do something proactively, they will lose talent to multinationals," he said.

According to the Hewitt study, figures for 2003 were only slightly higher than 2002 due to fears of a sluggish economy and the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

The study measured actual and projected salary increases across five job categories: senior management, manager, professional/technical/supervisory, clerical and support, and manual workers. It included 991 companies in 11 countries surveyed between July and September 2003.

In Singapore, a more developed economy, the average salary increase for 2003 ranged from 2.1 percent to 2.4 percent. Hong Kong and Japan, Asia's most mature markets, had workers with pay jumps of 1.3 percent to 1.5 percent and 1.6 percent to 2.1 percent, respectively.

The other countries surveyed--Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Australia--averaged increases of 3 percent to 5 percent.