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Income gap widening in HK, says NGO

2023-09-19 HKT 14:46
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  • Income gap widening in HK, says NGO
Oxfam Hong Kong on Tuesday warned of a widening income gap in the SAR, with the richest 10 percent of households making almost 60 times more than the poorest.

In its annual report on poverty, the NGO pointed to official statistics showing that one fifth of the population is living below the poverty line, surviving on less than half the city's median household income.

In the first quarter, the bottom 10 percent of households had a median monthly income of HK$2,300, while the top 10 percent had HK$132,600.

“The poorest decile made 57.7 times less than the richest decile in the first quarter of this year, the highest [difference] in a decade. We think that it is really unacceptable to Hong Kong because we are already back to [normalcy following the pandemic],” said the organisation's programme director Wong Shek Hung.

The NGO said the bottom decile made 47 times less than the top decile in 2022.

While the highest earners have been taking home more since the pandemic, salaries for the grassroots population have remained stagnant following minimum wage freezes and job losses in areas such as cleaning and security, Wong said.

She added that the poverty rate is even higher among those who don't work.

“Around 32.4 percent of the economic inactive are far below the poverty line. Half of them are elderly and almost 200,000 are women who have to take care of their families… These kinds of groups earned very little or even no income.”

Oxfam called on the government to create jobs for such groups and for the minimum wage – currently at HK$40 per hour – to be reviewed annually to make sure it keeps up with inflation.

Income gap widening in HK, says NGO