The average salary of industrial workers experienced its biggest growth in seven years during the last quarter of 2006, rising 6.2 percent to 10,530 per month. Laborers in the hi-tech industry saw their salaries increase more than 6% to an average of NIS 15,835, while employees of Israeli manufacturers are now earning, on average, NIS 7,108, up 3.2% from the beginning of 2006, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said Wednesday, noting that salaries are expected to increase some 3.5% more in 2007. "In the last three months of 2006, growth of industry overall rose 19.1%, the number of average working hours for employees in the industrial sector increased 4.1%, worker productivity rose 10.2% and prices of manufacturing equipment fell 0.2%, leading to the increase in wages," said Yair Rothlevy, chairman of the Work Committee in the Manufacturers Association. Additionally, he noted, raising the minimum wage not only affected employees who had been earning the minimum, but those who had been taking home slightly more than the minimum, as well. Rothlevy also pointed out that the average monthly salary of industrial workers is now more than 39% above that of laborers in other sectors, with business employees earning an average of NIS 7,763 and public servants earning NIS 7,263 a month. Within the technology sector, wages increased in all areas with the fourth-quarter increases of salaries of hi-tech industrial workers following on the heels of healthy growth in the second and third quarters, combining to raise their salaries almost 10% from the start of 2006. Employees in the integrated technology sector also earned significantly more at the end of 2006 than at the beginning after a fourth-quarter increase of 4.7% brought their average salary to some NIS 12,189 a month. According to the Manufacturers Association, those who work in the communications and electronics equipment sector are now earning NIS 19,721, the most among industrial workers, after a 4% salary increase in the fourth-quarter of last year, while employees who manufacture shoes are earning NIS 5,920, the least among industrial workers, yet still 59% above the minimum wage.