Analysis: wages vs. cost of living
The minimum reference wage for a worker to live a decent life in Barcelona and its metropolitan area is 1,322 euros per month. This is much higher than the minimum interprofessional wage. We analyse the data collected.
A report by the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) quantifies the minimum reference wage (SMR) at 1,420 euros to live in decent conditions in Barcelona city, 1,322 euros if you live in any other city in the metropolitan area. The indicator, which is non-binding, aims to give visibility to people who, despite having a full-time job, cannot make ends meet because their wages are insufficient in relation to the cost of living.
The estimate of this minimum reference wage is calculated taking into account the cost of services and basic needs, such as housing, which accounts for 34% of expenditure, 45% if we include supplies. As for the purchase of food, this represents 20% of expenditure, while the rest of the costs are divided between leisure, education, and transport, among others.
Even so, this is a study that sets the minimum wage needed for 2020, taking into account the figures for household spending in the metropolitan area in 2019, and therefore does not take into account the high inflation and other effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is why AMB sources concede that the minimum wage proposal may not be in line with current reality. A discrepancy that may be significantly increased due to the conflict in Ukraine and the skyrocketing cost of energy supplies, raw materials, and basic foodstuffs, which further reduce purchasing power.
Minimum wages by type of family
The proposal for minimum wages is based on monthly expenses according to the type of household. Thus, in the case of a couple without children, it is calculated that they need 1,039 euros per person, and almost 1,585 euros for a couple with two or more children. In the case of a person living alone with children, a salary of 2,168 euros would be required to cover all expenses, or 1,508 euros if there are no children.
Figures that are far from the Minimum Interprofessional Wage (SMI) of 950 euros per month, 22% lower than the reference wage in the municipality of Barcelona, and which highlight the precariousness of employment. Part of what the AMB calls the ‘working poor’, i.e. those who earn less than 1,322.52 euros, and who represent 32.8% of Barcelona and the metropolitan area.
On the other hand, the Generalitat de Catalunya’s lack of powers to apply its own minimum wage of 1,239.5 euros, proposed in 2019, is a pending issue. It could be partially resolved if the Catalan Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Roger Torrent, finally manages to carry out negotiations with social partners, trade unions and employers’ organisations for a Catalan minimum wage.
Can I save?
Even so, according to INE sources, in 2020 in Catalonia the median gross salary increased by 0.7%, reaching €2,158 gross per month. Therefore, a person earning this amount would have to be able to live in Barcelona or its metropolitan area with a savings margin of around €700 gross per month. For people who have a salary of this kind and do not manage to save enough, 11Onze is developing a series of content and tools to learn how to increase savings without giving up anything essential.
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