Salary increases in China are likely to exceed the rate of inflation in 2012 and job opportunities are expanding despite slowing economic growth, said human resources executives.
"Expectations for growth in China are rising as demand in the US and European markets remains very weak. Recruitment is doing well in China, the key market for growth," David Nagy, managing director of the US-based executive search firm DHR International, said in an interview on Thursday.
Although China's GDP growth might decelerate further, due to weakening external demand and structural shifts, the consumer market offers opportunities.
Medical care is a new frontier for employment, with the government's commitment to providing better health care and individuals' improved ability to pay for medical care.
China is improving its medical service system and has increased the subsidy for rural residents to 240 yuan ($38) a year for each person, from 200 yuan previously.
"Some medical companies are transferring their research and development centers to China, presenting more opportunities for us as well," he said.
The market will remain strong across almost all industries, including vehicles, online digital services and technology.
In particular, demand from foreign and domestic companies is robust for senior-level positions and for human resources and finance positions.
Foreign employers in China are expected to offer employees base-pay increases of 6 to 11 percent in 2012, Nagy said. China recorded a 4.5-percent year-on-year increase in the consumer price index in January.
In terms of bonuses, those in support positions such as human resources, public affairs and government relations are expected to see growth of 20 percent or so.
For sales, marketing and leadership positions, growth could be up to 35 percent, and sometimes, there is no cap, Nagy said.
A survey by Hays PLC released on Thursday found that more than 80 percent of employers in China plan to increase salaries by more than 6 percent in 2012.
The UK-based recruiting consulting company said that robust economic growth in China has prompted companies with operations in China to raise salaries to retain talent and support business development.
Among the 291 surveyed employers in the Chinese mainland, 29 percent said they would increase salaries by at least 10 percent. Another 29 percent gave a range of 5 to 10 percent and 13 percent said salaries would rise by 3 to 6 percent.
The surveyed industries included finance, high-technology, education, manufacturing, energy and biological science.
The survey also found that last year, 72 percent of the respondents in China increased salaries by more than 6 percent, with 51 percent reporting an increase of 6 to 10 percent and 21 percent offering more than 10 percent.
"Though the global economy is uncertain, China is still achieving strong growth," said Simon Lance, regional director of Hays China.
"In 2012, we expect to see more companies here focusing on recruiting and retaining key talent, a move to promote their expansion."
Among more than 900 employers, 64 percent said they expected business activity to increase and 41 percent expected their permanent staff levels to increase.