Hourly labour costs in Bulgaria lowest in EU in 2020 – Eurostat

Bulgaria had the lowest hourly labour costs in the European Union in 2020, according to figures published by EU statistics agency Eurostat on March 31.

The average hourly labour costs mask significant gaps between EU member states, with the lowest hourly labour costs recorded in Bulgaria (6.5 euro), Romania (8.1 euro) and Hungary (9.9 euro), and the highest in Denmark (45.8 euro), Luxembourg (42.1 euro) and Belgium (41.1 euro), Eurostat said.

Hourly labour costs in industry were 28.8 euro in the EU and 34.8 euro in the euro zone. In construction, they were 25.6 and 29 euro, respectively.

In services, hourly labour costs were 28.2 euro in the EU and 31.1euro in the euro zone.

In the mainly non-business economy (excluding public administration), they were 29.7 euro and 33.1 euro, respectively.

The two main components of labour costs are wages and salaries, and non-wage costs (for example, employers’ social contributions). The share of non-wage costs in total labour costs for the whole economy was 24.5 per cent in the EU and 25 per cent in the euro zone, Eurostat said.

Between 2019 and 2020, hourly labour costs at whole economy level expressed in euro rose by 3.1 per cent in the EU and by 2.9 per cent in the euro zone.

Within the euro zone, hourly labour costs increased in all member states except Malta (-4.7 per cent), Cyprus and Ireland (-2.7 per cent each).

The largest increases were recorded in Portugal (+8.6 per cent), Lithuania (+7.5 per cent) and Slovakia (+7.0 per cent), the smallest in Luxembourg (+0.5 per cent), Finland (+0.7 per cent) and the Netherlands (+0.8 per cent).

For member states outside the euro zone, the hourly labour costs expressed in national currency increased in all member states in 2020 except in Croatia (-1.0 per cent), with the largest increases recorded in Hungary (+7.9 per cent), Bulgaria (+7.8 per cent), Czech Republic (+7.4 per cent) and Romania (+7.2 per cent). They increased least in Sweden (+1.1 per cent) and Denmark (+2.0 per cent).

In 2020, most EU member states introduced a number of support schemes to alleviate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemics on enterprises and employees, Eurostat said.

These mainly consisted of short-term work arrangements and temporary lay-offs fully or partly compensated by government. Those schemes were generally recorded as subsidies (or tax allowances) recorded with a negative sign in the non-wage component of labour costs.

In general, the number of hours actually worked decreased more than wages while taxes less subsidies fell, thus limiting the impact on the hourly labour costs, Eurostat said.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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