The non-oil private sector of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) grew in December 2013 at its fastest pace in two-and-a-half year, showed the monthly purchasing managers index (PMI) of British bank HSBC published on Monday. According to the report, the last month of 2013 saw further steep increases in output and new orders at the UAE's non-oil producing private sector firms. However, the UAE PMI which is a snapshot of the activity of private business based on a survey reached in December 57.4 points, which was down slightly from November's record high of 58.1, said the HSBC report. A PMI above 50 indicates an expanding economy while a value below 50 hint to a contracting economy. New order rose by 41 percent of panel members indicating growth. HSBC said Survey respondents linked the latest rise to increased sales team efforts, good economic conditions and higher construction activity. Nevertheless, new export orders rose at the slowest pace in four survey periods and cost pressures persisted into December, with 12 percent of panel members reporting higher input prices. Backlogs of work accumulated at the quickest pace since data collection began in August 2009 in December, as companies struggled to process sharp growth of new work. "While the rate of job creation eased since the previous month, the increase remained above the long-run series average. Anecdotal evidence suggested that higher employment levels were driven by increased workloads," said the report. Other reports and forecasts affirm the assessment done by HSBC. Earlier in the day, global recruitment consultancy Robert Half said salaries for professional occupations (white-collar jobs) are expected to grow by 3.8 percent this year. The UAE ministry of economy expects the gross domestic product of the Gulf state, a major oil supplier, to grow by 4.5 percent in 2014, while the International Monetary Fund forecasts 3.9 percent growth.