Article

Employed but poor

Trends in the working poor in Spain

Begoña Cueto, University of Oviedo

The pay cuts in Spain from 2010 to 2014 affected above all the workers with the lowest wages. In general, the accumulated decrease caused the median wage in 2017 to be 8.6% lower than that corresponding to 2009. Furthermore, factors such as gender, age and educational level have a decisive impact on wage levels and trends.
Key points
  • 1
       The workers with the lowest wages are those who have experienced the largest decrease in their income. From 2010 to 2014, the median wage fell by 5.2%, while the earnings of the 25% of the workforce with the lowest wages did so by 7.5%.
  • 2
       The slight wage recovery of 2016-2018 has not compensated for the previous losses. In particular, the wages of the lowest-paid 25% of the workforce are 6.2 percentage points lower than they were a decade ago.
  • 3
       In-work poverty has more impact on young people, under-qualified people and women, who are also the workers most affected by job instability (temporary and part-time employment).
Have workers regained the wage level they had before the crisis? Trend in wages taking the year 2007 as base 100: median, first quartile and third quartile
Have workers regained the wage level they had before the crisis? Trend in wages taking the year 2007 as base 100: median, first quartile and third quartile
Women and young people, the worst off

We observe that women’s wages stand at around 80-85% of men’s, at all wage levels and at all times, which reflects the gender pay gap. More than 15% of women workers were poor in 2018, as opposed to 10% of working poor men.

The proportion of working poor under the age of 30 is 10% higher than in the case of the older workforce (30-59). Between the ages of 35 and 59 the situation remains largely stable over the years, the percentage of working poor always standing around 10%, with maximum levels approaching 15%, far removed from the 28% reached in 2014 by workers aged between 25 and 29.

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