American workers aren’t alone in wishing their hourly pay was higher. In fact, countries around the globe struggle to come up with minimum wages that balance the needs of both employees and businesses.
Unfortunately, a country’s statutory minimum wage often varies wildly from the real minimum wage, or actual buying power of a salary as it relates to the consumer price index. Representing a group of countries, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) compiles a list revealing real minimum wage numbers in nations that make this information available in an effort to support global economic progress.
GOBankingRates compared each country’s statutory minimum wage to the OECD real minimum wage, while examining the overall labor and economic climate in each country. Click through to find out how the minimum wage changes as you travel around the world.
32. Mexico Minimum Wage
- Mexico’s real hourly minimum wage: 90 cents USD
Mexico’s poorest workers recently received a hefty 10 percent increase in the statutory minimum wage, from 73 pesos up to 80 pesos, or about $4 per hour. Their real minimum wage, however, is the lowest on the OECD’s list.
The country suffers from massive social inequality, with the richest 10 percent of the population earning 20 times more than the poorest 10 percent, according to the OECD. Recently, though, Mexico enacted sweeping reforms across a broad spectrum of issues in an effort to increase wages and eradicate poverty. The changes are already gaining traction and expected to come to fruition by 2030.
31. Russian Federation Minimum Wage
- Russian Federation’s real hourly minimum wage: $1.30 USD
In 2016, Russians received a 20 percent raise in the statutory minimum wage, which increased from the equivalent of about $90 per month to $109 per month. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that’s a little more than 68 cents per hour.
Although Russians work significantly more hours per year than the average OECD country citizen, the Federation has one of the lowest real minimum wages. And, the country’s long-term unemployment rate is a whopping 27.3 percent.
30. Brazil Minimum Wage
- Brazil’s real hourly minimum wage: $2 USD
At the beginning of 2016, the lowest earners in Brazil got a sizable 11.6 percent pay hike. That raised the statutory minimum wage to the equivalent of about $4 per hour. Thanks to endemic political and economic woes, however, the real minimum wage is about half that amount.
29. Colombia Minimum Wage
- Colombia’s real hourly minimum wage: $2.40 USD
In the beginning of 2017, Colombia’s labor minister raised the country’s statutory minimum wage by 7 percent to the equivalent of about $1.18 per hour. The country’s real minimum wage, however, is nearly double that amount. The increase came on the heels of a wave of protests, and eventually walkouts, launched by the country’s labor unions.
28. Chile Minimum Wage
- Chile’s real hourly minimum wage: $3 USD
In June 2016, the Chilean government began rolling out a staggered increase in the statutory minimum wage, which will continue in four stages through 2018. The increase will eventually result in a minimum wage of about $409 per month. Currently, it’s in stage three, at $400 per month. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that’s about $2.44 an hour.
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27. Slovak Republic Minimum Wage
- Slovak Republic’s real hourly minimum wage: $3.50 USD
Slovakians follow a 40-hour workweek, and the country’s statutory minimum wage is 405 euros, or $462, per month. With 160 working hours in a month, that equals about $2.83 per hour. In Slovakia, both employer and employee contribute to the worker’s Social Security obligations, and each worker maintains a savings account to build a pension.
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26. Costa Rica Minimum Wage
- Costa Rica’s real hourly minimum wage: $3.70 USD
There’s no set statutory minimum wage in the Central American nation of Costa Rica. Instead, the country operates on a complex system that assigns four different minimum wages based on the worker’s skill level.
There’s also a different classification for domestic workers, who can legally be paid less than everyone else. In total, there are 23 different minimum wages, which is down from 72 in 1992.
25. Latvia Minimum Wage
- Latvia’s real hourly minimum wage: $3.80 USD
In Latvia, the current statutory minimum wage is roughly the equivalent of $433 a month. With a 40-hour workweek, that comes out to about $2.70 per hour. The Baltic state’s economy is growing on most measurable fronts, though, with solid business regulations and openness to global trade, making the country more attractive to entrepreneurs.
24. Lithuania Minimum Wage
- Lithuania’s real hourly minimum wage: $3.90 USD
The statutory minimum wage in Lithuania is about $433 per month, or $2.70 per hour based on a 40-hour workweek. Lithuania has recently made efforts to stifle corruption and reduce government spending.
Currently, Lithuania’s real hourly minimum wage is $3.90, but a new labor code aims to create more jobs and cut the 9.5 percent unemployment rate.
23. Estonia Minimum Wage
- Estonia’s real hourly minimum wage: $4.10 USD
Estonia guarantees its lowest-paid workers the equivalent of $4.10 per hour. Once a remote and isolated Soviet outpost, Estonia was cut off from much of the world for years. When communism collapsed, each citizen of the tiny Baltic nation received the equivalent of $10.60 to start his or her life over.
Less than 20 years later, it would become the place where Skype was invented. Today, Estonia is fully digital and, according to Fortune, a model for Europe’s tech future. It’s also one of the cheapest countries to live in.
22. Czech Republic Minimum Wage
- Czech Republic’s real hourly minimum wage: $4.20 USD
In the Czech Republic, the statutory minimum wage is the equivalent of $480 per month. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that’s about $3.35 an hour. The country’s private sector has enjoyed significant expansion, thanks to significant reform and a steady trend toward globalization since the fall of the Soviet Union.
21. Hungary Minimum Wage
- Hungary’s real hourly minimum wage: $4.40 USD
The lowest-paid workers in Hungary earn roughly $472 per month, thanks to the country’s statutory minimum wage. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that’s about $2.89 per hour — $4.40, adjusted for inflation.
Following tense negotiations between unions and employers, however, the government agreed to raise wages considerably between now and 2018. The government claims that the wage hike, along with new tax reform, positions Hungary among the world’s most business-friendly nations.
20. Portugal Minimum Wage
- Portugal’s real hourly minimum wage: $4.50 USD
Portugal’s statutory minimum wage is around $636 per month. Based on a 40-hour workweek, that’s about $3.98 per hour, which isn’t far from the country’s real minimum wage. Its current minimum wage is at an all-time high, according to Trading Economics.
19. Greece Minimum Wage
- Greece’s real hourly minimum wage: $4.70 USD
The statutory minimum wage in Greece is the equivalent of $669.28 per month. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that’s $4.18 per hour.
Workers and unions in Greece recently rallied to protest against looming austerity measures, which represent yet another attack on the working class. The minimum wage dropped by nearly 20 percent between 2008, when the crisis started, and 2016.
18. Spain Minimum Wage
- Spain’s real hourly minimum wage: $5.10 USD
Spain’s minimum wage is the equivalent of $807 per month. For an employee on a 40-hour workweek, that’s about $5.04 per hour.
More than 5.5 million people in Spain earn the minimum wage, and the country’s unions want a raise. Spain was among the countries that were hardest hit by Europe’s recent economic crisis, and the nation has yet to recover. Unemployment continues to hover around 19 percent.
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17. Poland Minimum Wage
- Poland’s real hourly minimum wage: $5.70 USD
Poland guarantees its workers a minimum wage equivalent to about $539 per month, or roughly $3.37 per hour on a 40-hour workweek. Poland seems to be emerging from the economic crisis well, with an economy that continues to grow. Wages there rose 4.1 percent between April 2016 and April 2017.
16. South Korea Minimum Wage
- Korea’s real hourly minimum wage: $5.80 USD
On Jan. 1, 2017, the lowest-paid South Koreans received a boost in pay from the equivalent of $5.30 per hour to $5.69 per hour. The wage hike benefited 3.36 million workers.
According to the New York Times, the country is still dealing with numerous economic problems, with workers facing stagnant wages and massive household debt.
15. Turkey Minimum Wage
- Turkey’s real hourly minimum wage: $5.80 USD
The lowest-paid workers in Turkey got a raise in 2017, when the monthly minimum wage increased from about $455 to $491. In April, Turkey’s economy underwent a major shift to a new system that will change the way the government and economy operate. The country has been suffering from high unemployment and inflation.
14. Israel Minimum Wage
- Israel’s real hourly minimum wage: $5.90 USD
The Israeli statutory minimum wage guarantees workers at least $7.62 per hour. However, Israel approved a measure that will increase wages for working parents who have children 6 years old and younger. The country recently came under criticism for a plan to deduct 20 percent from the wages of some working asylum seekers.
13. Slovenia Minimum Wage
- Slovenia’s real hourly minimum wage: $7 USD
The statutory minimum wage in Slovenia is the equivalent of $919 per month. Based on a 40-hour workweek, that’s $5.74 per hour. Slovenia’s economic growth has been stifled by widespread corruption, an inefficient judicial system and political instability. The European economic crisis deeply impacted the country, which has yet to recover.
12. United States Minimum Wage
- United States’ real hourly minimum wage: $7.20 USD
The federal minimum wage in the United States has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009. However, many states mandate minimum wages that are higher than the federal requirement.
The minimum wage has been a political flash point in the United States for the last few years, and the topic was featured heavily in the most recent presidential election. Most Democratic politicians support an increase, while most Republicans do not. Workers looking to earn more than minimum wage should consider applying to these companies.
11. Japan Minimum Wage
- Japan’s real hourly minimum wage: $7.40 USD
Japan operates under a complex system in which the minimum wage varies depending on industry and location, or prefecture. In Tokyo, for example, the statutory minimum wage is currently around $8.01 an hour. In Miyagi, it’s roughly the equivalent of $6.41 an hour.
The Japanese enjoy a variety of labor perks. Virtually all employers offer some sort of tax-privileged severance package, and many workers receive family and transportation allowances.
10. Canada Minimum Wage
- Canada’s real hourly minimum wage: $8.10 USD
There are 13 different minimum wages in Canada, corresponding to the country’s 13 provinces. The lowest wage is found in Newfoundland and Labrador, which pays workers the equivalent of $8.29. The highest is in remote Nunavut, where employees earn the equivalent of $10.
9. United Kingdom Minimum Wage
- United Kingdom’s real hourly minimum wage: $8.40 USD
In the U.K., workers who have reached “school-leaving age” — which varies depending on location — are protected by the minimum wage. Currently, that’s the equivalent of about $7.26 an hour. The living wage, however, is the least any employer can pay workers 25 and older. That rate is currently the equivalent of $9.73 per hour.
8. Ireland Minimum Wage
- Ireland’s real hourly minimum wage: $9.10 USD
In Ireland, experienced adult workers receive $10.57 per hour. Several classes of workers, however, can earn less. People in their second year of work after they turn 18 receive 90 percent of the minimum wage. Those who have worked for one year past their 18th birthdays get 80 percent, and those under the age of 18 earn 70 percent of the minimum wage.
7. New Zealand Minimum Wage
- New Zealand’s real hourly minimum wage: $9.30 USD
New Zealand’s lowest-paid workers earn a statutory minimum wage equal to about $11.45 per hour. That, however, is only for adult workers. The country maintains a three-tiered system that guarantees minimum wages for employees who are “starting out” and “training.” Both of those classes currently earn a minimum of $9.17 an hour.
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6. Netherlands Minimum Wage
- Netherlands’ real hourly minimum wage: $9.90 USD
The Netherlands’ minimum wage system works on a sliding scale that grants workers more money each year between ages 15 and 22 before capping off with a category for employees 23 and older. The country does not mandate how many hours are in a workweek, but it is generally 36, 38 or 40.
Currently, the minimum wage for those workers 23 and older is the equivalent of roughly $409 per week. Presuming the median 38-hour workweek, that’s about $10.76 per hour.
5. Belgium Minimum Wage
- Belgium’s real hourly minimum wage: $10.20 USD
Belgium’s statutory minimum wage is roughly the equivalent of $1,749 per month. Presuming a 40-hour workweek, that’s about $10.90 per hour.
In Belgium, that wage applies to all employees 18 and older. Employees who are 19 with at least six months experience get slightly more. A third bracket represents workers who are at least 20 years old with a minimum of one year of experience.
4. Germany Minimum Wage
- Germany’s real hourly minimum wage: $10.30 USD
The statutory minimum hourly wage in Germany is about $10.10. By law, Germany’s minimum wage is reassessed every two years.
Germany is home to the biggest economy in Europe, and the current wage represents an increase that came from the last reassessment. Groups representing the country’s lowest-paid workers say the increase was not enough. However, some business groups argue that it was too much.
3. Luxembourg Minimum Wage
- Luxembourg’s real hourly minimum wage: $11.00 USD
Luxembourg’s minimum wage system works on a scale based on the country’s standard minimum wage, which is currently about $2,281 per month. Based on a 40-hour workweek, that puts the statutory minimum wage at $14.26 per hour.
Workers age 15 to 17 must be paid no less than 75 percent of that amount, and workers age 18 to 19 must be paid no less than 80 percent. For skilled workers, the minimum wage is 20 percent higher.
2. Australia Minimum Wage
- Australia’s real hourly minimum wage: $11.10 USD
The statutory hourly minimum wage in Australia is $18.29 Australian dollars, or $13.87 USD. An agency called the Fair Work Commission oversees a panel that determines the minimum wage every year. The labor system is overseen by a Fair Work ombudsman, who enforces minimum wage standards and levies fines and other punishments against employers who don’t abide by the minimum pay rules.
1. France Minimum Wage
- France’s real hourly minimum wage: $11.20 USD
The current statutory minimum wage in France is roughly the equivalent of $1,690 per month. Not only does France boast the highest minimum wage in the entire OECD, but the French enjoy a 35-hour workweek. That puts their statutory minimum wage at around $12.07 per hour. Still, the French government faced widespread criticism in 2016 for raising the minimum wage by only 9 cents.
About the Author
Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street’s investment community in New York City.