Monday, October 22, 2007

Latvian wage growth

On August 31st Latvia published its statistics on wage growth. The average growth as compared to Q2 2006 was a stunning 33,2%. Great for all those wage earners, a terrible blow to the competitivness of the country. Interestingly the leader in the wage growth was public sector with 37,1% wage growth compared to 32,4% in private sector. Why is Latvian government increasing the public sector wages so quickly at a time when the crucial point for the government should be stopping the overheating of the economy? Because the public sector wages have been low and stagnant for years? Hardly so. The public sector workers earned on average 30% more than workers in private sector (not adjusting to anything). This also disagrees with the common hypothesis that a big reason for Latvian wage growth is legalizing wages, i.e. people who used to earn only minimum wages officially and got the rest in envelopes, now get bigger share of their income officially, so according to the statistics their wages seem to be increasing. Assuming that the public sector has been paying their wages correctly all the time, such "cleaning" of the wages should only affect the statistics of the private sector.

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