Survey: Estonia's minimum wage is one of the lowest in EU

Minimum wage in Europe.
Minimum wage in Europe. Source: Eurostat

Although Estonia has one of the lowest monthly minimum wages in the European Union, the proportion of people earning the minimum is also one of the lowest in the EU, data published by Eurostat shows.

Estonia's minimum monthly wage is €584, which is the eighth-lowest among the EU member states where the minimum wage has been officially established. 

Minimum wages are lower in Bulgaria (€312), Latvia (€430), Romania (€466), Hungary (€487), Croatia (€546), Czech Republic (€575) and Slovakia (€580). 

But the minimum wage is higher in Lithuania (€607), Poland (€611), Portugal (€741), Greece (€758) and Slovenia (€941). The highest minimum wage of €2,142 is in Luxembourg.

Minimum wages January 2010 and January 2020. Source: Eurostat

Considering the standard of living (PPS) in the country, Estonia's minimum wage is relatively low when compared to most countries of a similar standing - only Latvia and Bulgaria lag behind Estonia. 

Estonia has one of the lowest minimum wages compared to the national median wage. In 2014, Estonia's minimum wage was only 40 percent of the median wage. Data from 2014 was used as data was available for all this year in all countries.

At the same time, in Estonia, the share of workers receiving the minimum wage or the minimum wage and up to five percent more, is one of the lowest in the EU, data from 2014 shows. 

In 2014, only about 3 percent of Estonian employees wages were 105 percent of the minimum wage or less. Only five countries were smaller than Estonia.

The proportion of employees earning the minimum wage in January 2010 and January 2014. Source: Eurostat

In January 2020, 21 out of the 27 EU Member States (Denmark, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden were the exceptions) had a national minimum wage, as did the United Kingdom and all of the EU candidate countries (Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Turkey).

Monthly minimum wages varied widely across the member states, from €312 in Bulgaria to €2,142 in Luxembourg.

Compared with January 2010, minimum wages were higher in January 2020 in every EU Member State which has a national minimum wage, except in Greece where they were 12 percent lower.

Between January 2010 and January 2020, the average annual rate of change of minimum wages was highest in Romania (12.5 percent) and in Lithuania (10.1 percent). Bulgaria (9.8 percent), Estonia (7.7 percent) and Poland (6.6 percent) recorded significant increases.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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