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Huge differences in hourly earnings in Europe

Staff Writer |
Notable discrepancies can be observed in the Member States of the European Union (EU) in gross hourly earnings.

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This is not only between the 10% of employees earning the least and the 10% earning the most, but also according to the economic activity, with financial and insurance activities being among the highest paying industries in every EU Member State and accommodation and food services among the lowest paying.

This information on earnings disparities is issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. It is based on the latest results of the four-yearly Structure of Earnings Survey. They are complemented with a more detailed on-line article and an interactive infographic on earnings by economic activity.

Largest earnings disparities in Poland, Romania, Cyprus, Portugal, Bulgaria and Ireland Disparities in gross hourly earnings within a country can be measured using deciles, and in particular the lowest and highest deciles, which correspond to the 10% of employees earning the least (D1) and to the 10% earning the most (D9).

As a consequence, a high D9/D1 interdecile ratio indicates large disparities. Across the EU Member States in 2014, the D9/D1 dispersion ratio ranged from 2.1 in Sweden to 4.7 in Poland.

This means that the 10% best-paid employees earned at least twice as much as the 10% lowest-paid in Sweden, and nearly five times as much in Poland.

After Poland, Romania (with a ratio of 4.6), Cyprus (4.5), Portugal (4.3), Bulgaria (4.2) and Ireland (4.1) registered high disparities in gross hourly earnings.

In contrast, the lowest D9/D1 ratios were recorded, after Sweden, in Belgium, Denmark and Finland (all with a ratio of 2.4), France (2.7) and Malta (2.9).

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