It is telling that the public almost unquestioningly believes that the minimum wage helps low-income people in particular. But as the prominent Czech economist Robert Holman writes in his textbook on microeconomics, “If economists agree on anything, it is that legislating a minimum wage increases unemployment.”
At the end of last week, the current proposal for changing the minimum wage level was published. It is interesting for several reasons, mainly because, for the first time, the new mechanism for determining the minimum wage is applied, linking it to the dynamics of the average wage. This, in the context of high inflation and the subsequent rapid growth of wages, leads to its largest nominal increase in the last two decades.
In the current situation of high inflation and large budget deficits, salary increases for politicians and central bankers alike are rightly criticised. While, because of the poor economic situation, the wages of most citizens are falling in real terms due to inflation, these high-ranking civil servants are not feeling any of the pinch.
If we want to start talking about next year’s minimum wage increase, we first need to look to the past. As we all know, 2020 was the year of the pandemic, and that brought with it, among other things, a significant downturn in the economy, and with it a fall in labor productivity. The private sector responded logically by reducing the growth in average wages. But not all businesses had this option.
The general objective of the Directive is to ensure that all EU workers are protected by minimum wages, which is essential to guaranteeing adequate working and living conditions regardless of the place of work or residence.
The European Commission has proposed options for possible EU action addressing the challenges related to fair minimum wages in the EU. The initiative has a general objective to ensure that all workers in the EU are protected by fair minimum wages, allowing for a decent living wherever they work.
The current Vice-President of the European Commission Mr. Timmermans openly says that a minimum wage of 60% of the median wage should be paid in the EU. In addition, the European Commission launched consultations with trade unions and employers on EU minimum wage rules in January.
In Slovakia, the minimum wage has become a political evergreen of every autumn. However, its growth has been rapidly increasing in recent years. Moreover, the former Slovak prime minister has proposed a new law, which will set the minimum wage at 60% of an average wage of the previous year.
The ruling politicians are unfortunately going in the opposite direction. While a person working for a minimum wage in 2015 paid 29% in taxes and levies, with the planned minimum wage, they will pay more than 40% next year.
A minimum wage problem is a thought experiment that is not easy to comprehend. The fact is that people are different. Some people create enormous wealth and others do not produce much. If their added value or created wealth in a month does not reach the minimum wage, the government forbids them to work.