The word mileurista was published for the first time in 2005 in Spain’s national daily El País.
It’s a neologism which has come to refer to around 5 million people in Spain, but what exactly does it mean?
A mileurista is a worker who earns around €1,000 a month, a term which has encapsulated Spain’s ongoing trend of low wages and worker insecurity.
It can also be used to describe a salary, job or other element relating to these widespread low wages.
Juan es mileurista, le cuesta llegar a final de mes.
Juan is a low earner (earns around €1,000 a month), he struggles to make ends meet.
Es un sueldo mileurista con unas condiciones de trabajo bastante malas.
The salary is around €1,000 a month with pretty bad job conditions.
As you can see, mileurista is usually used in a negative sense, and the term mileurismo describes the problem as a whole.
El mileurismo en España no ayuda a atraer talento extranjero.
Spain’s average €1,000 wages don’t help to attract foreign talent.
The Spanish press uses the term to describe a generation of young, (over)qualified, middle-class Spaniards who earn less than their parents, the first time it’s happened since Spanish Civil War times.
It was in fact coined by a 27-year-old woman called Carolina Alguacil who fit exactly that profile and posted a letter to El País editors titled “Yo soy mileurista” (I am a €1,000 earner).
This was three years before the financial crisis began in 2008, so it doesn’t take much to realise why the term stuck and is now in the dictionaries.
Seventeen years on, Spain’s left-wing coalition government has announced it will raise the minimum wage to exactly €1,000 over 14 payments a year for full-time low earners.
It’s touted as a positive step towards ending precariousness, but one would be right to expect better from the 14th largest economy in the world.