The minimum wage in Germany of EUR 9.50 gross per hour is »still noticeably lower« than the lower wage levels in the Western European EU countries plus Great Britain. They all have a minimum wage of EUR 9.80 and more. This is the result of the minimum wage report published this Friday by the Economic and Social Science Institute (WSI) of the union-affiliated Hans Böckler Foundation.
According to the report, the minimum wage in four countries is more than ten euros; Luxembourg has the highest wage floor in the EU at 12.73 euros. The lowest is in Bulgaria with two euros. According to the WSI report, the sometimes very different minimum wages in the EU countries partly reflect different living costs. If the cost of living is taken into account when comparing the lower wage limit, the gap between the EU countries with a low and a high lower limit is “noticeably” reduced, according to the WSI scientists. But even after taking into account the different price levels, a minimum wage earner in Bulgaria has to work 2 hours and 40 minutes longer in order to achieve the same purchasing power that a minimum wage earner in Luxembourg achieves within an hour.
At the beginning of the second corona year, according to the report, the minimum wages “were raised significantly less than in previous years”. And this despite the fact that the corona pandemic has made it clear that many socially important jobs are paid too low. 17 EU states have increased their minimum wages year-on-year, Hungary followed suit on February 1st, and the ex-member Great Britain will do so in the coming weeks. With the exception of Estonia, Greece and Spain, all EU countries with minimum wages raised their minimum wages between the beginning of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
Measured in terms of the median wage, the minimum wage in Germany in 2019 is only 48 percent of the median in the WSI report as “very moderate”. In an EU comparison, Germany ranks 14th out of 21 places. When comparing the EU minimum wages in relation to the respective national average wage, the minimum wage in Germany is in seventh position in the EU at 42.6 percent. The standard international indicator for the appropriateness of the minimum wage is 60 percent of the respective median wage or 50 percent of the average wage. The EU Commission has also highlighted this in its new draft directive for adequate minimum wages in the EU. In Germany, according to a recent study commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, this would be around twelve euros per hour.
If the minimum wages were to be adjusted to this benchmark in the medium term, according to the WSI report, around 6.8 million people in Germany and a good 25 million across the EU would receive “reasonably adequate hourly wages” for the first time. In conclusion, the researchers state that the European Commission’s proposal should be based on numerous initiatives for higher minimum wages at national level.