Salary is the main source of dissatisfaction for Spaniards at work

Half of Spanish workers are dissatisfied with their salary. In general, citizens are happy with the environment in the workplace, working hours and mobility, and even with professional prospects. The situation varies depending on the position, but in all areas the majority agree in pointing out their salary as the main cause of discontent. According to a Simple Lógica survey for elDiario.es, 45% of respondents are not satisfied with what they charge each month.

From this work, carried out with interviews with more than a thousand people, it can be deduced that general job satisfaction is high. 75% are "very or quite satisfied", while 20% respond that they are "neither satisfied nor dissatisfied" and only 5% say that they are "little or not at all satisfied". Satisfaction levels reach peaks in issues such as the environment in the workplace (82%) and working hours, including the length of the day and flexibility (72%), but click on the salary. 55% of those surveyed are “very or quite satisfied”.

For the secretary of studies and trade union training of the CCOO, Carlos Gutiérrez, this dissatisfaction with the salary responds to both conjunctural and structural aspects. “We workers are losing purchasing power because our wages don't keep pace with inflation,” he explains. But it is also read from a situation rooted in the Spanish labor market: “For decades there has been a commitment to competitiveness in wages. What was being said is that companies could compete by having low wages”, he indicates.

“Historically, the minimum wage has remained very low and the labor reforms, especially those of the last economic crisis, in 2008, resulted in a wage devaluation. That, in the long run, has generated generalized or widespread dissatisfaction among male and female workers,” says Gutiérrez. The expert considers, however, that this situation is "trying to break", for example, with the "intense increases that have occurred in the Minimum Interprofessional Salary since 2018". That year, the minimum that a worker could legally receive for a month of full-time work was 735.9 euros. Today it stands at 1,000 euros per month.

"The dissatisfaction shown by the surveys is completely justified and supported by the existing data," agrees the economist Alberto del Pozo. This member of Economists Facing the Crisis explains that the 2008 crisis broke the transmission belt between economic growth and better wages for workers. “The process of economic growth from 2014 until the arrival of the pandemic, which was quite reasonable and intense, was not accompanied by an increase in quality employment and consistent salary growth. Salaries did not grow consistently, they remained frozen or even lost purchasing power”, he develops.

The level of dissatisfaction with salary is not homogeneous. While 38% of those surveyed who are unskilled workers and self-employed are "very or quite satisfied", 22% of this group is "somewhat or not at all satisfied". These percentages are practically multiplied and divided, respectively, between those who hold high positions or are qualified liberal professionals, up to 66% and 11% in both cases. Administrative employees and skilled workers fall in the middle: one in two is not satisfied with what they charge.

Why are unskilled workers or workers in lower categories more dissatisfied? The simplest answer is because they charge less. But there are other factors. “When austerity policies were applied in the great recession, if there is a population that paid the price for those measures, it was precisely the 30% of the population with the lowest salaries. As we go to higher levels, we see that this impact was less”, explains Del Pozo. Thus, while the employees or freelancers who were paid less were more punished and have inherited lower salaries to date, this did not happen with higher positions.

Those lower salaries are also those who have less capacity to face a situation of high inflation like the current one. According to the latest data from the Statistics of Income Tax Returners, from the Tax Agency, in Spain 20% of taxpayers earn between 12,000 and 21,000 euros gross per year and 40%, less than 12,000 euros. "The salaries are so low and there is such a level of mileuristas that any variation in terms of inflation for them is a monthly drama," lamented Del Pozo.

The economist also explains that in Spain there are two paths that lead to job insecurity. "On the one hand, because full-time salaries are very low or because workers do not work a sufficient number of hours throughout the year to obtain a reasonable wage income," he indicates. According to the latest data, the temporary employment rate in the country stands at 22.29%. A rate that is traditionally linked to low-skilled positions. Precisely, among this group, 22% are "not at all or not very satisfied" with their remuneration.

The level of salary dissatisfaction is related to the intention to change profession or company. Among those who want to do so (28.4%), only 37% are "very or quite satisfied" with their salary, compared to 31% who are "little or not at all satisfied". “Currently, salary improvement is often linked to a change of job, which, in a situation of escalating prices, is not uncommon for there to be people or quite a few people who aspire to change jobs to improve their situation. ”, explains Gitierrez.

In other variables, other structural aspects come into play, such as the traditional wage gap between men and women. This would explain, for example, why they are more dissatisfied with their salaries. Only 52% of workers are "very or quite satisfied" with what they charge, compared to 58% of them.

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