Even if the pandemic has severely tested the world’s economies, created unemployment and aggravated social inequalities, in almost all European countries average annual wages increased. But not in Italy.
The OECD data say it: between 2019 and 2020, despite the limitations imposed by Covid, average wages increased in the Netherlands (+ 2.4%), in Slovenia (+ 2.3%), in the countries Baltics (especially in Latvia, by 7.1%). A slight decline was recorded in France (3.2%) and Spain (2.9%); in Italy the decrease was more marked (5.9%).
But if, before the pandemic, in all European countries, since 1990, the average annual wage has always increased (in some cases very clearly), Italy is the only exception: it is the only European country where wages have fallen compared to 30 years ago. Because?
We talked about it with the economist Giampaolo Vitali, of the Cnr-Ircres. “In 2020 wages fell by 6% compared to 2019 in Italy, while in the other countries the crisis had less impact»He explains. “If we stop at 2019, between 1990 and 2019 there would be an increase (+ 3%), but still less than in France (+ 35%), Germany (+ 18%), Spain (+ 9%)”.
Let’s try to find some mitigating circumstances. «Since the data are expressed in dollars, there is also a problem caused by the historical devaluation of the lira; for example, in 1993 and 1994 wages are lower than in 1992, also because the lira devalued by 30% in September 1992. We should start from 1999 (birth of the euro) and not from 1990. But even with respect to 1999 our wages they drop by 3.6% in 2020 and increase by only 2.4% in 2019, while in other European countries it is much better “.
In short, as the economist explains, “however we look at it – before or after the crisis; before or after the euro – our dynamic reflects the stagnation of the GDP (which is the sum of the added value of all operators) and confirms that wages increase if the productivity of the system increases. After all, macroeconomics tells us that if the GDP grows little, little new wealth is produced, that is, little added value compared to the previous year. The added value is then distributed to the factors of production, i.e. entrepreneur (profits), capital (interest), labor (wages), state (taxes), etc. If the pie doesn’t rise, the wage slice remains stable (it decreases a bit) ».