The income gap between workers in China’s richest and poorest provinces widened in absolute terms in the first three months of the year, according to official figures, although salaries generally rose faster in deprived regions.

Shanghai retained the top spot on the list of 31 province-level jurisdictions, with residents of the financial hub earning an average of 17,277 yuan (US$2,700) over the January-March period, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Based on figures published for last year, that represents an increase of 9.1 per cent from the equivalent period of 2017.

China’s capital Beijing ranked second on the list, with its residents seeing their average quarterly income rise 8.3 per cent from last year to 15,767 yuan.

Integration push eases wage gaps in northern China, official says

At the bottom were the autonomous regions of Tibet (3,136 yuan) and Xinjiang (4,593 yuan), both of which are located in the far west of the country.

Despite its position at the foot of the table, salaries in Tibet actually rose by 12.3 per cent from last year, faster than anywhere else in the country.

That did little for the income gap between Shanghai and Tibet in absolute terms, however, which rose to 14,141 yuan in the first quarter of 2018, from 13,049 yuan a year earlier.

The remainder of the top five places on the list were filled by the eastern provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu, and the northern city of Tianjin, all of which recorded average individual salaries of more than 10,000 yuan for the three-month period, the statistics bureau said.

Several other relatively low-earning provinces in western and southern China saw significant year-on-year gains, including Guizhou, where the average income rose by 10.8 per cent.

In China’s richest province, a yawning gap exists between the haves and the have-nots

Despite the universal gains – incomes rose by at least 6 per cent across the country – the actual position of each region and province on the list was unchanged from last year.

Also, in 23 of the 31 areas, the rate of growth of personal earnings was slower than the corresponding figure for local gross domestic product.

This discrepancy suggests that the fruits of China’s continued economic expansion are still not being equally shared among its people.

It might also prove to be a problem for President Xi Jinping who last month vowed to boost domestic consumer spending to help bolster the nation’s economy.

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