Newly published figures show that Romania has one of the EU’s highest proportions of workers on low wages. Behind only Latvia and Lithuania, 25.6 percent of Romanian employees are earning low wages, well above the 17 percent EU average, according to Eurostat. Not a surprise perhaps, but importantly the figures for low wages are calculated country by country using the national average wage. A low wage is defined as two-thirds or less the gross median hourly earnings.
In Romania, the low wage threshold is EUR 1.30 per hour, the second lowest in the EU. In Hungary, the threshold is EUR 2.30 per hour, in the Czech Republic EUR 3 per hour and in Germany EUR 10.20 per hour. The low wage threshold in Denmark is EUR 16.60 an hour and only 7.7 percent of workers are earning below the threshold. Sweden has the smallest proportion of workers on low wages – just 2.5 percent.
The figures, published December 20, also include a breakdown of the proportions of men and women earning low wages. Across the EU, more women are on low wages than men, 21.2 percent of women and 13.3 percent of men. But in Romania, the split is almost equal – 25.8 percent of women compared to 25.5 percent of men. This is by far the smallest gender gap in the EU.
For low wages against level of education, Romania follows the European trend – a larger proportion of those with a low education level are on low wages, while fewer of those with a high educational level earn less than average. However, the trend is more pronounced in Romania. Nearly 50 percent of those with a low education level are on a low wage, while just over 30 percent of those with a medium level of education and 5 percent of the highly educated are on a low wage. At an EU level the respective proportions are 29 percent, 19.3 percent and 5.8 percent on low wages.
Looking at wages by contract type, those on a fixed term, or temporary contract, are twice as likely to have a low wage than those on an indefinite, or permanent contract: 31.3 percent versus 15.7 percent on low wages at an EU level. Romania follows the same trend, but with a less pronounced difference; 35.4 percent on fixed term contracts earn a low wage compared to 25.4 percent of those on indefinite contracts.
Liam Lever, email@example.com