Monday, June 25, 2007

Minimum Wage

Here's an astonishing statistic: 17% of French private sector workers earn the minimum wage, which the government has just announced will be raised from 985 euros per month to 1,000 euros, a 2.1 percent increase, just keeping pace with inflation (despite earlier hints that SMIC earners would receive a coup de pouce, or fillip to their purchasing power). Source: Le Monde.

Contrast this with the US, where only 2.5 percent of hourly workers receive the minimum wage or less (permissible because of legal exemptions). Source: BLS.

In France there are 2.5 million smicards. In the US, with 5 times the population, there are only 1.9 million workers in the bottom wage category. To be sure, the American minimum wage is lower than the European average, comparable with that of Greece (see here), despite the considerably higher US cost of living.

These figures suggest that Ségolène Royal was quite right to criticize the Socialist platform plank calling for an increase of the SMIC to 1,500 euros. It would quite simply be impossible to grant a 50 percent wage increase overnight to 17% of private sector workers. But the fact that so many work for the minimum wage is frankly scandalous, and it does lend weight to cjb's contention that a high wage bill is not the root cause of France's economic difficulties.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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