Large Wage Differential in Europe

The average wage costs between the EU states differ by a factor of ten. Bringing up the rear in terms of labour costs per hour are Bulgaria at EUR 3.70, Romania at EUR 4.40, Lithuania at EUR 5.80 and Latvia at EUR 6.00. The leader is Sweden with an average hourly wage of EUR 39.00. These figures for last year were presented on 10 April 2013 by Eurostat, the EU statistical office. Accordingly the statistical average wage in the European Union is EUR 23.40 per working hour and EUR 28.00 in the 17 states of the Eurozone.


The figures reflect gross wages as well as incidental wage costs, i.e. the social security contributions of employers. Compensation in the fields of agriculture and public service as well as companies with fewer than ten employees were disregarded by the statisticians. Eurostat is careful to point out that the presentation of results outside the Eurozone may be subject to distortions as a result of exchange rate fluctuations.

Germany with EUR 30.40 per working hour is ninth in the labour cost ranking. Wages are higher in some countries neighbouring Germany, such as Denmark at EUR 38.10, Belgium at EUR 37.20 and France at EUR 34.20. From 2008 to 2012, wage costs in the 27 EU member states increased by 8.7 percent on average. Austria posted the strongest growth in the Eurozone with 15.5 percentage points. In Portugal and Ireland on the other hand, the statistically recorded labour costs remained virtually unchanged. In Greece there was even a significant decrease. Labour costs outside the Eurozone, calculated in the respective national currency, increased the most in Romania and Bulgaria at 26.7 and 42.6 percent respectively. The wage increase in the United Kingdom was below the EU average at 5.2 percent.

Classified by economic sectors, industry paid the most at EUR 24.20 in the EU and EUR 30.30 in the Eurozone. Wages in the service sector for 2012 averaged EUR 21.00 and EUR 24.30 respectively. The construction trade paid EUR 21.00 and EUR 24.30 respectively. Incidental wage costs accounted for an average of 23.7 percent in all EU states and 26.1 percent in the 17 member states of the Eurozone. According to Eurostat, the spread for incidental costs ranged from 8.2 percent on Malta to 33.6 percent in France.


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