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ARGENTINA | 20-02-2020 07:30

Average wage fell 44.3% in dollar terms under Macri, says study

New report finds there has been a collapse of the average income in dollar terms since 2015, dropping from US$1,385 to just US$771 in four years.

A new study says that the average income of working Argentines has slumped by more than 40 percent in dollar terms since 2015.

In all, the report found that the median salary among the formally employed workforce had suffered a brutal collapse of 44.3 percent in dollar terms during the four years of the Mauricio Macri government.

That slump, the report concluded, was predominantly down to the peso's heavy devaluation and real wage lag during the last four years, a report by the Universidad Nacional de Avellaneda (Undav) revealed earlier this month. 

The decline was even sharper when measuring the purchasing-power of the minimum wage (SMVyM, in its official Spanish acronym), which passed from representing US$589 at the end of 2015 (or 5,588 pesos at the exchange rate of that time) to the current US$268 (or 16,875 pesos) – a plunge of almost 55 percent in only four years.

"Argentina has gone from having the highest SMVyM in South America, measured in US currency at the official exchange rate, to falling way down the ranking. This dynamic accelerated especially in the last two years," pointed the report by the Undav's Public Policy Observatory, led by economist Santiago Fraschina.

As for the average wage among registered workers – a universe of some six million workers in both the public and formal private sectors – their incomes moved down from representing US$1,385 to US$771, for a fall of 44.3 percent in that period. 

Analysing exclusively registered workers in the private sector, the value of their salaries deteriorated by some 40 percent in dollar terms. This retraction in the purchasing-power of Argentine wages in dollar terms moved in the opposite direction to most countries in the region, which (leaving aside Argentina and Venezuela) grew by 11.8 percent in that period. 

According to the Undav report, Argentina has moved down nine places in the regional ranking of minimum wages in dollar terms in the last four years, dropping from first to 11th behind Costa Rica (US$ 560), Uruguay (US$ 434), Ecuador (US$ 400) Guatemala (US$ 391), Chile (US$ 387), Paraguay (US$ 338), Bolivia (US$ 307), Peru (US$ 277), Honduras (US$272) and Panama (US$ 270). 

"The national average wage retreated as a product of high inflation with devaluation outstripping collective bargaining on average. If we compare this level of income with the minimum wage, we can see that some countries improved their position while others worsened," according to the Undav analysis.

Specifically, Argentina ranks seventh in Latin America when taking into account the average income received by its wage earners measured in dollars, according to the Undav.



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