Median family makes 7,000 pesos
INDEC: the gap in wages according to gender widened last year
Three out of four workers are paid at most 6,500 pesos per month as remuneration for their main employment, an INDEC national statistics bureau report on the final quarter of 2013 indicated yesterday.
With teachers’ unions striking and other labour organizations preparing for collective wage bargaining in months ahead, official data shows that only 10 percent of registered workers receive salaries that are higher than 9,000 pesos.
The Labour Ministry estimates that 34 percent of workers are unregistered, with under-the-table employment usually implying lower wages, which the government cannot calculate.
INDEC specified the report was elaborated from household data on formally received individual and collective income during the fourth quarter of 2013.
With wages largely unadjusted for now and inflation rampant at 7.1 percent in the first two months of the year, workers have felt the pinch of the peso’s anaemia, although prices are expected not to rise as swiftly in months ahead.
Although income inequality rose slightly at the end of 2013, when compared to 2012, The government’s overall success in closing the gap between the richest and the poorest has come as wages have struggled to remain on par with inflation, a problem aggravated for the seven years between January 2007 and February this year by the state’s intervention at INDEC and consequent unreliable data from the consumer price index (CPI).
The inability to keep up with inflation is evident in the median salary of 4,040 pesos at the end of 2013, which represents only a 15.4 percent increase on the 3,500 registered during the same period of 2012.
Other income percentiles, however, did see adjustments that were closer to the unofficial inflation rate.
Workers who are in the top 25 percent of earners saw incerases of 30 percent to 6,500 pesos from the 5,000 pesos earned in 2012.
The income of the lowest-earning 10 percent rose only 200 pesos to 1,200 pesos, while at the other end of the spectrum, the highest-earning 10 percent of workers saw their salaries increase by 2,000 pesos from a year earlier to a floor of 9,000 pesos.
At the official exchange rate of approximately eight pesos per US dollar, the workers in the lowest percentile earning 1,200 pesos would effectively be living on US$5 a day.
For international organizations including the United Nations and the World Bank, the poverty line stands roughly at US$1 a day, while private institutions including the Argentine Catholic University (UCA) consider the bar to be higher.
According to INDEC’s report, the country’s Gini coefficient closed 2013 at 0.372, edging up slightly from the 0.364 posted by the bureau 12 months earlier.
The coefficient, with zero representing hypothetically perfect distribution and one the highest proportion of inequality, addresses household income both before and after taxes.
Since 2003, Argentina has seen its Gini coefficient — a widely accepted measure of inequality — drop from 0.5102 in 2004 to 0.445 in 2010, according to World Bank figures.
INDEC’s data differs slightly, reporting a coefficient of 0.471 in 2003.
Income equality and minimum wage figures nonetheless remain among the best in the region.
When looking at total family income, 75 percent of registered workers made less than 11,600 pesos for their household, with a floor of 2,450 pesos for the lowest percentile, up only 450 pesos from December of 2012 and well below the formal minimum wage of 3,600 pesos.
The highest 10 percentile families raked in 17,000 pesos or more, a 30.8-percent hike from the level posted 12 months prior.
The median family income by the end of the year was 7,000 pesos, which marked a 25-percent increase.
Gender gap widens
In one of the most eyebrow-raising details of the study, the gap between income by gender increased significantly in 2013.
The median average male worker earned 1,400 pesos more than a woman at 5,000 and 3,600, respectively, with the gap rising to 38 percent from the 30 percent posted by INDEC in December of 2012.
The amount of hours worked by each gender did not change, at 44 for males and 33 for females.