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The Irish minimum wage? It could be worse, you could live in Mexico...

Ireland’s low pay standard finishes quite high up the OECD rankings.

THE MINIMUM WAGE in Ireland is something of a thorny subject at present.

With the newly established Low Pay Commission and unions such as SIPTU arguing for a raise on one side, and the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) on the other, the issue of how high or low our minimum wage should be has never been more pertinent.

But where does Ireland stand on the global list of statutory low wage earners? We’re surprisingly near the top of the tree actually (of OECD member countries at any rate).


With a per euro hourly minimum rate of €7.49 (after tax, our net rate being €8.65) Ireland sits fourth in the table behind Australia (€8.44), Luxembourg (€8.18), and Belgium (€7.58).

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the pile sit Chile (€1.96), Latvia (€1.29), and Mexico, where low wage earners subsist on a miniscule €0.90 per hour.

Other nations of interest include Germany (who sit 8th in the table with €6.37 per hour, a minimum rate that was first introduced this year), the UK (10th with €6.25), and the US (just behind the UK with €5.54 per hour).

Another interesting statistic to emerge from the report is that the gap between Ireland’s minimum wage and the median wage (i.e. the figure where 50% of workers earn more and 50% earn less) has widened significantly since 2007, to a greater extent than any other country on the list in fact.

min 4 Ratio of minimum wage to median wage, before tax OECD OECD

This is often a case of a country (such as Greece) lowering the minimum wage to combat unemployment in times of recession. That is not the case in Ireland however, where low wage levels have remained static over the course of the downturn.

It does seem to suggest that the poor are getting poorer in Ireland, and the rich are getting richer.

In Ireland, SIPTU recently called for a hike in the minimum wage to €11 per hour. Small firms’ organisations such as ISME have consistently argued that such a hike will make their businesses unsustainable however.

The information comes courtesy of an OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) research study into minimum wages after the financial crisis, which can be found here.

Read: The UK’s minimum wage has just gone up…

Read: This CEO has cut his own salary and made the minimum wage at his company $70,000

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