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Hungary to increase minimum wage in 2019

Budapest, Hungary – Talks about rising the Hungarian minimum wage have been circulating for several months. The exact amount of the hike has now been made official.

Hungary announces minimum wage increase

Earlier this month, the Hungarian government announced that the minimum wage will rise to a gross 150.000 HUF per month (approximately 470 euros) for unskilled workers, compared to 138.000 forints today. Skilled workers will now receive a monthly minimum wage of 200.000 HUF (around 520 euros), up from the current 180.500 forints.

Magyar Idok, the mouthpiece of Hungary’s conservative government, quoted by the English-language government website About Hungary, said the figures were based on a tripartite agreement reached between the government, employees and employers. The government also made sure to point out that the new wage “is 230% higher than during the last Socialist government” in 2009.

Rising minimum wages across Central European countries

All across Central Europe, governments have announced the increase of minimum wages in 2019. In September, the Polish government proposed to increase the minimum wage by 7%, bringing it to 2.250 PLN (approximately 520 euros).

Last month, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini signed a decree implementing an 8% increase of the minimum wage in 2019, also bringing it to 520 euros per month, compared to 480 euros today. “We will continue the dynamic increase in the minimum wage, with the aim of raising it so that it will amount to at least 60% of the average wage of the national economy”, Pellegrini said.

The Czech government, after months of debates with the trade unions and business federations, also announced a few weeks ago that the monthly minimum wage will be raised from the current 12.200 crowns to 13.350 as of January 2019 (around 530 euros). “This is not just good news for the 150.000 people who work for a minimum wage (around 4% of the workforce), but for all employees since a growth in the minimum wage will inevitably influence wage growth in general”, the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister highlighted.

Currently, the minimum wage in Central European countries are among the lowest in Europe. Along with Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Croatia, the Visegrad Group countries are the only EU countries where it doesn’t exceed 500 euros per month. The recent announcements will bring it above this threshold in all V4 countries, but still lagging far behind the levels in most Western European countries.

Fueled by dynamic growth rates, booming economies and tightening labor markets marked by record-low low unemployment and crippling labor shortages, the minimum wage hikes are a delicate and thorny exercise for governments, aimed at addressing the population’s demand for growing living standards while safeguarding the country’s competitiveness and low labor costs to keep attracting foreign companies and businesses, a cornerstone of their booming economy and attractive manufacturing sector.

Coordinated by Ábel Bede, Kafkadesk's Budapest office is made up of a growing team of freelance journalists, editors and fact-checkers passionate about Hungarian affairs and dedicated to bringing you all the latest news, events and insights from Hungary.

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