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Spain's labour costs at virtual standstill

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Spain's labour costs at virtual standstill
Photograph of an electrical engineer in front of a fuseboard: Shutterstock
17:03 CEST+02:00
Employers in Spain's private sector had average labour costs of €20.90 ($28.90) an hour in 2013, slightly up on 2012 despite calls from the IMF and the OECD to free up the country's job market.

Private sector labour costs in Spain are the 12th most expensive in the EU, the figures from Germany's federal statistics office Destatis show.

At €20.90, these costs are marginally below the EU average of €23.70 per hour, but well below average eurozone costs of €28.70.

The Spanish private sector figure is also a long way behind Italy where employers pay an average of €28.00. Spain's hourly rate is, however, more than double that of Portugal (€11.50) and nearly a third higher than the Greek figure of €14.10.


The German statistics agency figures also show Spain's figures barely moved in 2013, rising 0.3 percent. This is despite Spanish wages dropping an estimated 20 percent from 2011 to 2013.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said these lower wages are saving jobs but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the OECD have repeatedly called for crisis-hit Spain to continue to slash wage costs and free up its labour market.

In August 2013, the IMF called for Spain to cut its wages by 10 percent in August 2013 as a means of stimulating growth and creating more jobs while the OECD in December called for Spain to cut its generous severance allowances.  

The highest overall hourly labour costs, according to Destatis, were in Sweden, whose employers pay an average €43 an hour, followed by Belgium (€41.2) and Denmark (€39.80).

Bulgaria had the lowest average hourly costs in the EU was Bulgaria at just €3.70.The UK was, like Spain, in the middle of the pack at 13th, and with average hourly costs in the private sector at €21.10.

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