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Wage growth plateaus at Asian ops of Japanese companies

Poll shows trend of smaller raises likely to continue next fiscal year

Japanese companies lifted wages 5.55% this fiscal year at operations elsewhere in Asia, such as this Honda Motor factory in Thailand.

BANGKOK -- Japanese companies pulled back on pay raises at operations elsewhere in Asia this fiscal year, a Nikkei Research poll shows, with growth appearing to peak even in areas where wages had been surging.

Local wages rose by an average of 5.55% at 1,662 Japan-based businesses operating in 13 other Asian markets, down 0.03 percentage point from the previous fiscal year's increase, according to the survey conducted between July and September. Myanmar and Cambodia were added to the list in this year's poll.

Companies seem to be trying to keep a lid on wage growth, which accelerated in just five of the surveyed markets. Even the sharpest increase, in the Philippines, totaled just 0.56 point.

The slowdown looks set to continue in fiscal 2018, with pay seen rising 5.34% on average. Growth is expected to decline in 11 markets and remain essentially flat in the other two -- Singapore and Malaysia -- with increases of 0.1 point or less.

More than 40% of respondents in Malaysia, South Korea, the Philippines, India and China reported dissatisfaction with pay levels among local staff. Companies are racing to find other ways to appeal to employees. More than 60% of respondents across all markets surveyed offer insurance or assistance with medical costs beyond what the law mandates.

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