This article illustrates how minimum wage levels — established by national legislation or directly by national intersectoral agreement — vary considerably across European Union (EU) Member States; it also provides a comparison with the situation in Turkey and the United States.
Minimum wage statistics, as published by Eurostat, refer to monthly national minimum wages. The national minimum wage usually applies to all employees, or at least to a large majority of employees in the country under consideration. Minimum wages are gross earnings, that is, before the deduction of income tax and social security contributions payable by the employee; these deductions vary from country to country. The national minimum wage is enforced by law, often after consultation with social partners, or directly by national intersectoral agreement.
National minimum wages are published by Eurostat bi-annually. They reflect the situation on 1 January and 1 July of each year. As a consequence, modifications to minimum wages introduced between these two dates are only shown for the following bi-annual release of data.
Main statistical findings
In July 2013, 21 of the EU’s 28 Member States (all except Denmark, Germany, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden) had national legislation setting a minimum wage by statute or by national intersectoral agreement.
Variation of statutory minimum wages
In January 2014 minimum wages in EU Member States ranged from EUR 174 to EUR 1 921 per month
Monthly minimum wages varied widely, from EUR 174 in Bulgaria to EUR 1 921 in Luxembourg as of 1 January 2014. When adjusted for price differentials across countries, the disparities between the EU Member States were reduced from a ratio of 1:11 (in euro terms, see Figure 1) to a range of 1:5 in purchasing power standard (PPS) terms (see Figure 2). Monthly minimum wages, taking account of price differences between the Member States, ranged from a low of 345 PPS in Romania to a high of 1 576 PPS in Luxembourg.
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