Jun 01

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Minimum wage debates in the US and the EU

Ever felt like you’re working for peanuts? What’s the minimum wage in your country? And how does it compare to that of other countries? You can find out by watching the video and reading up on a few statistics. As an added bonus, you’ll get to practice some of the key words to describe salaries and wages in English!

The minimum wage debate in the United States

Watch the video and note down the words and expressions you find useful. Concentrate on both words related to salaries and wages and also on spoken expressions.


Minimum wage in the European Union

from Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU


This article illustrates how minimum wage levels vary considerably across the European Union (EU) Member States; it also provides a comparison with the situation in the candidate countries and the United States.

Minimum wage statistics, as published by Eurostat, refer to national minimum wages. The national minimum wage usually applies to all employees, or at least to a large majority of employees in a country. It is enforced by law, often after consultation with social partners, or directly by a national intersectoral agreement.

Minimum wages are generally presented as monthly wage rates for gross earnings, that is, before the deduction of income tax and social security contributions payable by the employee; these deductions vary from country to country.

Several of the founding EU Member States have a lengthy tradition of ensuring a national minimum wage for those at the lower-paid end of the workforce. By contrast, a number of Member States, including Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and many of the countries that joined the EU in 2004 or later, have only recently introduced minimum wage legislation, while six of the EU-28 Member States had no national minimum wage as of 1 January 2015.

Minimum wages in the EU Member States ranged from EUR 184 to EUR 1 923 per month in January 2015

In January 2015, 22 out of the 28 EU Member States (Denmark, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden were the exceptions) had a national minimum wage (see Map 1). As of 1 January 2015, monthly minimum wages varied widely, from EUR 184 in Bulgaria to EUR 1 923 in Luxembourg.

The countries are divided into three groups based on the level of their minimum wages. The first group includes countries whose minimum wages were lower than EUR 500 a month: it is composed of the five candidate countries and ten of the EU Member States (Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia, Estonia, Croatia and Poland).

The second group comprises five EU Member States (Portugal, Greece, Malta, Spain and Slovenia), each with an intermediate level of minimum wages, ranging from EUR 500 to less than EUR 1 000 a month.

The final group comprises seven EU Member States (the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) where the national minimum wage was EUR 1 000 or above per month, as was also the case in the United States.

Read the full article published by Eurostat


illustrate – show

refer to – (here) concern

deduction – reduction, cut

founding EU Member State  –  the Member States who established the EU in the 1950s /  Quiz: Find, fund, or found?

be composed of – consist of

comprise – consist of, include

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.euenglish.hu/2015/06/minimum-wage-debates-in-the-us-and-the-eu/

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