Spain, the third country in Europe with the highest average salary in relation to GDP

A construction worker. / FILE, ARCHIVE

It also occupies the top of the table when measured by the country's productivity and its minimum wage is the second highest when compared to the median wage.

Lucia Palacios

Salaries in Spain, despite what one might think, are not low, at least if they are measured in terms of the country's economy and productivity. Moreover, they are even among the highest in Europe, according to one of the conclusions drawn from the VIII Adecco Monitor on Salaries published this Wednesday, at a time when salaries are at the center of the debate in the face of runaway inflation.

Specifically, the average salary in Spain, which stood at 1,751 euros per month in 2021, is the third highest in Europe if the proportion it has with GDP per inhabitant is measured. 82.6% of our country is only surpassed by 84% of Germany and 82.9% of Italy, while it clearly exceeds France (80.4%), Denmark (72.3%), Holland (70 .4%), Poland (66.4%), Portugal (64.6%) and Sweden (61.8%), in addition to 18 other countries. The two lowest ratios correspond to Luxembourg (36.7%) and Ireland (41.7%).

Similarly, the Spanish salary is also at the top of the table if measured in terms of average productivity: it is the sixth highest salary in the European Union. It is equivalent to 34.9% of productivity (understood as GDP per employed person), ahead of France (34%), Finland (33.1%) or Sweden (30.4%), to mention just a few examples. The only five countries that present a higher proportion than the Spanish are Germany (45.3%), Holland (39.1%), Denmark, Austria (37.8% in both cases) and Italy (35.2%). . On the opposite side, the lowest ratios are in Ireland (19.4%) and Estonia (26.3%).

The report warns that it is precisely the evolution of productivity that allows doubts to be raised about the sustainability of current wage levels in Spain, since it is the European country in which productivity has fallen the most in the last five years: 4 .8%, a much steeper drop than the rest. "Without an increase in productivity, wage increases are unsustainable," explains Adecco.

On the other hand, the study also points out that Spain is well positioned in Europe with regard to the minimum wage, set at 1,000 euros per month in 2022, after it has increased by more than 30% in recent years, and puts in doubt that new rises are justified as long as the lost levels of activity are not recovered.

Thus, he points out that in no country of the European Union is the minimum wage equal to or greater than 60% of the average wage, which is where Spain wants to go next year, and stresses that only in five member states does the minimum wage exceed 50 % of average salary.

With the increase to 1,000 euros, Spain reaffirmed itself as the second country in which the legal minimum wage is higher in proportion to the average wage, with 57.1%, only surpassed by Slovenia (58.8%).

In Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and other countries, the ratio between the minimum wage and the average wage is more than 10 percentage points lower than in Spain. And he even maintains that the situation is even more unfavorable, since Eurostat data excludes the primary sector and domestic service, which have average wages below the average. Its inclusion, therefore, would make the relationship between the minimum wage and the average wage even higher.

Finally, the monitor points out the "great disparity" between communities. Thus, in the Community of Madrid and the Basque Country, the minimum wage of 1,000 euros is equivalent to less than 50% of their respective average wages, while in the Canary Islands and Extremadura that ratio is more than 70%. There are only five autonomous communities where the minimum wage is equivalent to less than 60% of the average remuneration (Madrid, the Basque Country, Navarra, Catalonia and Asturias).

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