End-of-year wage statistics for Asia's supply chain professionals are starting to trickle out, and show earnings in the field weathering the continuing international financial and economic pressures reasonably well.
In Singapore, a Supply Chain Manager in the electronics business will earn between $50,000 and $100,000, according to the most recent data from PayScale. That's more than 20 percent higher than the average national wage in Singapore.
Intra-regional differences in wages are noticeable, but not as large as you might think. The big loser in wages is the Philippines, where a supply chain manager earns barely 20 percent as much — between $10,000 and $22,000 — as his or her Singaporean counterpart, according to the same PayScale survey.
Here’s a breakdown of earnings for supply chain managers across Asia/Pacific:
- India $11,500 – $27,700
- Indonesia $21,000 – $51,000
- China $35,700 – $65,000
- Thailand $36,000 – $100,000
- Malaysia $20,000 – $48,500
- Australia $87,000 – $140,000
- Philippines $10,000 – $22,000
Those statistics cover earnings by country, rather than by the nationality of the worker. The survey did not distinguish between, for example, a Thai national working as a supply chain analyst in Bangkok, and a different Thai national with the same qualifications and job experience working abroad in Singapore.
Wage statistics were not available for several South and East Asian countries, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
The comparison reinforces some assumptions about differences in payment up and down supply chains. The Philippines is by far the cheapest labor market in East Asia, according to the survey. But other differences were not as clear.
Malaysian and Indonesian wages, for example, are strikingly similar in the survey, despite a longstanding perception that Malaysia had leapt ahead of its larger neighbor and regional competitor in retaining skilled labor. While unskilled labor does appear to flow out of Indonesia into Malaysia, it’s not clear that’s as likely in the electronics field, and for electronics supply professionals, who can earn just as much at home as abroad.
Similarly, contrary to conventional wisdom, Australian electronics distributors that seek a supply chain employee in Thailand may find no cost savings over a hire in Australia. But a Thai company operating in Australia might save money hiring an Australian, over sending one of its own.
Similarly, Chinese wages were neither as modest nor as competitive as usually presumed, and the disparity between the bottom and the top of the pay scale was in line with other nations. Across the continent, the highest-paid supply line managers earned a little more than twice what the lowest-paid earned, according to the survey.
Nor are salaries for supply chain professionals markedly different in Asia and the United States. Though it is common to hear that manufacturing has moved to Asia to save labor costs, getting components and finished goods back from across the Pacific requires paying an average salary of $64,000 to $104,000 in the United States.
That’s about double the average in most Asian countries surveyed. But it’s a job that’s impossible to outsource: Like all supply lines, the trans-Pacific electronics route needs someone at every stop, and all those people, including the ones at the end of the chain, expect to get paid.