Number of low-income earners drops by half in five years

The percentage of earners earning less than €540 per month has declined in all counties.
The percentage of earners earning less than €540 per month has declined in all counties. Source: Maike Tubin

Compared with 2015 figures, there are half as many people today whose monthly income is below the minimum wage of €540, while the number of people who earn more than €2,500 per month has grown quickly, according to Tax and Customs Board (MTA) data.

In 2015, nearly 30 percent of people in Estonia earned a monthly income of up to €540, making this the largest income group in the country. Another 16 percent earned €541-750 per months. One fifth of people, meanwhile, earned €1,001-1,500 per month.

Compared with this year's average figures, the difference is considerable: just 15 percent of people, or half as many as five years ago, earn up to €540 per month. The number of people earning €541-750 per month also decreased to just under 14 percent. Together, these figures indicate that the percentage of low-income earners in Estonia has fallen significantly. If 46 percent, or nearly half, of all Estonian residents earned up to €750 per month in 2015, this total has dropped by nearly one third to 29 percent.

What has remained fairly steady between 2015 and 2019 is the proportion of people earning €751-1,000 per month — from nearly 17 percent in 2015 to just over 15 percent this year. The proportion of people earning €1,001-1,500 per month, meanwhile, has increased 6 percent to over 26 percent.

The percentage of people earning €1,501-2,000 per month saw a significant increase between 2015 and 2019, from 8 to 14 percent, and those earning €1,501 per month or more likewise jumped from nearly 17 percent to nearly 30.

Broken down by county, the number of people earning below €540 per month has decreased nearly 14 percent in Harju County and nearly 15 percent in Tartu County. Several other counties saw even more significant decreases, including a reduction by one fifth in Hiiu and Võru Counties.

The majority of counties also saw a slight reduction in the number of people earning €541-750 per month, with the exception of Ida-Viru and Valga Counties, but even the growth in these figures was minor, totaling below 1 percent.

Compared with 2015, significantly more people earn monthly incomes of €1,001-1,500, including nearly 11 percent in Saare, Hiiu and Põlva Counties. The smallest increase in the growth of this income group was in Harju County, where it totaled nearly 5 percent.

The smallest growth was recorded in the income group earning €1,501-2,000, with the most, nearly 9 percent, located in Lääne County.

Growth in the percentage of people earning €2,001-2,500 per month, meanwhile, remained between 1-3 percent per county, while 6 percent more people in Harju County and 1-4 percent more elsewhere earn €2,500 or more per month than they did five years ago.

The county with the highest proportion of people earning less than €540 per month, accounting for nearly a quarter of residents, is Ida-Viru County in Northeastern Estonia. Nearly one fifth of residents likewise earn below the minimum wage each month in Hiiu, Lääne, Jõgeva, Võru and Valga Counties.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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