Almost all EU countries increased minimum wages in 2019

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As the vast majority of EU countries have increased minimum wages in January 2019, here’s how the new list of the countries with the lowest and the highest minimum wages looks like.

The beginning of 2019 brought good news for workers across Europe. Almost all EU member states increased minimum wages from January 1st.

It was a predictable decision after 2018 – a year marked by economic growth and record-low unemployment rates around the region.

Spain recorded the highest increase of the minimum wage

The majority of countries increased minimum gross wages by less than 10%.

However, Spain made international headlines by announcing a minimum wage rise of 22%. It is the biggest annual minimum wage increase in 42 years.

The minimum monthly wage in Spain jumped from €736 to €900 ($843 to $1,031). In fact, the actual wage per month is even bigger as many Spanish employees get 14 monthly salaries a year. That would make €1,050 ($1,203) per month.

It is also the case with Portugal which increased its minimum gross wage to €600 ($688) a month based on 14 payments a year or to €700 ($802)a month based on 12 payments.

Due to the significant increase, Spain moved from 10th to 8th position in the list of EU countries with the highest minimum wage.

France is another country that loudly announced the minimum wage increase from January 2019. It went to €1,521 ($1,742), and it was a President’s Emmanuel Macron response to a massive “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vests) protest wave against government’s decision to increase fuel tax. However, this measure didn’t help to end the violent protests in France.

Countries with the highest minimum wages

Luxembourg retained the highest minimum wage in the EU. In January 2019, Luxembourg increased the unqualified minimum social wage by €22 ($25) a month to €2,071 ($2,373). The qualified minimum social wage rose to €2,485 ($2,847) (by €27 ($31) a month).

Ireland has the second highest minimum wage in EU. On January 1st the minimum wage in Ireland rose by 25% per hour to €9.80 ($11.2). It makes approximately €1,656 ($1,897) per month for a full-time worker.

With the minimum wage of €1,616 ($1,851), the Netherlands ranks the third in the list of countries with the highest minimum wages in EU, followed by Belgium (€1,612 ($1,847) and Germany (€1,599 ($1832). The minimum wages rose in all these countries. Whereas the minimum wage in the UK will be increased from April 1st.

According to Eurostat, for comparison, the federal minimum wage in the US was €1,048 ($1,201) per month in January 2018.

Countries with the lowest minimum wages

Minimum wages in Easter and Central Europe are lagging far behind the ones in Western Europe. Nonetheless, countries with the lowest minimum wages have been increasing it too.

In January 2019, five EU countries had minimum wages below €500 ($573) compared to nine in 2018.

Bulgaria has the lowest minimum monthly wage of €286 ($373) in EU. Latvia and Lithuania have the minimum wage of €430 ($493), Romania – €445 ($510), Hungary – €463 ($530).

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