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1 out of 6 employees in the EU is a low-wage earner

Dec 8, 2016 | News

(08 December 2016) – The proportion of low-wage earners among employees amounted to 17.2% in 2014 in the EU. This means that they earned two-thirds or less of their national median gross hourly earnings. Median gross hourly earnings vary by 1 to 5 between Member States when expressed in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS), and by 1 to 15 when expressed in euros.


The proportion of low wage earners continued to vary significantly between Member States in 2014. The highest percentages were observed in Latvia (25.5%), Romania (24.4%), Lithuania (24.0%) and Poland (23.6%), followed by Estonia (22.8%), Germany (22.5%), Ireland (21.6%) and the United Kingdom (21.3%). In contrast, less than 10% of employees were low wage earners in Sweden (2.6%), Belgium (3.8%), Finland (5.3%), Denmark (8.6%), France (8.8%) and Italy (9.4%).

The highest median gross hourly earnings in PPS were recorded in Denmark (18.5 PPS) and Ireland (18.4 PPS), ahead of Belgium (15.4 PPS), Germany and Luxembourg (both 15.0 PPS), the Netherlands and Sweden (both 14.5 PPS). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest median gross hourly earnings in PPS were registered in Bulgaria (3.6 PPS) and Romania (4.0 PPS), followed by Latvia (5.0 PPS) and Lithuania (5.1 PPS).

The highest median gross hourly earning in euro was recorded in Denmark (€25.5), ahead of Ireland (€20.2), Sweden (€18.5), Luxembourg (€18.4), Belgium (€17.3) and Finland (€17.2). In contrast, the lowest median gross hourly earnings in euro were registered in Bulgaria (€1.7) and Romania (€2.0), followed by Lithuania (€3.1), Latvia (€3.4) and Hungary (€3.6).

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