GENEVA — Rich nations saw little growth in real wages last year, while workers in many developing countries enjoyed a healthy rise in pay, the UN-affiliated International Labor Organization said Wednesday.
Worldwide, inflation-adjusted wages grew 1.6 percent in 2009, a slight improvement on the 1.5 percent rise recorded a year earlier during the chaos of the global credit crunch. In 2007 — before the start of the global downturn — real wages grew 2.8 percent.
Excluding China, real wages across the globe rose only 0.7 percent in 2009 and 0.8 percent the year before.
The International Labor Organization said its survey of 115 countries and territories, covering 94 percent of wage earners in the world, showed considerable variations across regions.
Employees in the United States, the world's biggest economy, saw inflation-adjusted pay grow between 1.5 percent and 2.2 percent depending on the figures used, the ILO said.
Other large economies such as Germany (-0.4 percent), Japan (-1.9), South Korea (-3.3) and Britain (-0.5) experienced a noticeable decline in 2009, said Manuela Tomei, the ILO's employment chief.
Many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia continued to make up ground lost in the 1990s after the collapse of communism, but several large economies saw pay fall. Real wages in Russia declined 3.5 percent in 2009, with similar or worse drops in Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.