This is what you get paid

Ever looked at minimum wages in the European Union?

First of all, you might notice that this map ASSUMES you know the names of the countries…

(You DO, don’t you? … ) 

Good, then I don’t need to tell you that Slovakia has a little number “317” over it. That means the Slovak minimum wage is 317 euros per month, or according to my calculations (and depending on the exchange rate) about $450 per month. (This does not take into account taxes and other state extractions.)

Apparently Germany and all those other gray countries have no official minimum wage, but they determine pay by collective bargaining in each sector of the economy.  Here is a more complete graphic including data from those central countries: List of sovereign states in Europe by minimum wage

And here is another way to look at the disparities:

What does all this mean in the lives of working people?  Well, that is the job of a cartoonist to record…  I am working on some comics about migrant labor and border crossings, between Slovakia and the rest of the EU, and also between EU states and non-EU states.

Just for US reference, here is the US minimum wage data in a sortable table… All I can find for charts and graphs is this rather unhelpful image provided by the US Department of Labor:


The current federal US minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Multiplying this by 40 hours per week and (say) 4.5 weeks per month, we get a monthly minimum wage of around $1300.
AND while we’re talking about international wages and North America, we might note the minimum wage in Mexico (as listed here on Wikipedia) appears to be 56 pesos per day, which at time of writing converts to about $4.09 per day.

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5 thoughts on “This is what you get paid

  1. Very interesting! You can see why the Slovaks are not interested in underwriting the debts of the Greeks, Irish, Spanish and Italians. How do they keep a union together with such disparities.

  2. It is true that prices are different in each country, but as you know the reality of open borders makes that less important…

  3. And wanted to share this taken from a blog post Charlotte sends me–a guy (Vince Farrell) who follows financial events and always has some keen insight–dateline for this post is Nov 29, 2011:

    September 1, 1939
    That’s when Nazi Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. When the carnage was over, more than 5 million Poles had died, Jew and non-Jew. Civilian deaths to military deaths were skewed more than 10:1. It takes a better man than I to understand at some point you have to move on and forgive.

    Nelson Mandela was imprisoned at hard labor for 27 years by the South African apartheid government and the first thing he did when released was to forgive those who had mistreated him. John McCain spent over six years in a North Vietnamese prison and has been able to rebuild a remarkable life, regardless if you agree with his politics or not.

    There was another stunning example of a man rising above the shackles of a horrible historical wrong when the Polish Foreign Minister gave a speech yesterday. In an impassioned call for Germany to step up and rescue the Euro zone monetarily, Radoslaw Sikorski, said “I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say this, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear its inactivity. You have become Europe’s indispensable nation. You may not fail to lead: not dominate, but to lead in reform.” Ms. Merkel – what more can be said? In the span of one lifetime from millions dead to a plea to lead. Remarkable.

    • Janet — Beautiful sentiment. Change is possible — that concept can be hard to find in the Old World.
      On the plane last week, I sat next to a young HR director from Germany, who expressed the German position this way:
      “Let’s face it, we OWN the Acropolis now.”

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