What can you buy with the minimum wage in Latin America?

The lowest minimum wage in the region is Venezuela's, while the highest is the Argentinian. But what can we buy with them?

Minimum wage: How is the picture in Latin America?

A new year is coming and while the minimum wage increases are negotiated, we show you what can be purchased with a minimum wage in the Latin American continent, based on numbers of 2018.

Leer en español: Salarios mínimos ¿Cómo está el panorama en América Latina?

According to the Latin American central banks, last 2017 closed with an accumulated regional inflation of 5.40%, based on these data the minimum wages of 2018 were established.

Argentina and Chile with the highest minimum wages

According to Semana magazine, the legal minimum wage in Argentina is USD  544. According to Telesur, despite being the highest minimum wage in the region, it is not even enough to cover the basic food basket. Which is composed of meat, grains, cereals, vegetables, fruits, sugar, salt, oil and coffee and costs around USD 883.

Likewise, basic services such as electricity, water, gas, and garbage treatment, costs an average of USD 61.28. A monthly public transport pass costs USD 12.26.

The second highest minimum wage in the region is Chilean, which is USD 456. While the basic basket, which includes a diet of 2000 calories per day per person, has a cost of USD 42 per person.

The prices of the basic basket presented an increase of 3.7% compared to the previous year. Also, the set of basic services has an approximate cost of USD 125.23 and a monthly pass on public transport has a cost of USD 46.

Read also: Chile leads in human development, but gender inequality persists

Insufficient minimum wages: a pattern in Latin America

Uruguay, the country with the highest inflation in the region after Venezuela, has a minimum salary of USD 431. According to the portal Búsqueda, life in Uruguay requires an expenditure of USD 2405.90, which includes the basic basket, housing, clothing, education, health, entertainment and extra expenses such as cigarettes and meals away from home.

Ecuador has a minimum salary of USD 391. While the basic basket has an estimated cost of USD 628, a monthly pass for public transport costs USD 12, and basic services USD 42.

Brazil, the largest country in the region, registered one of the smallest increases in the minimum wage for this year, with an increase of only 1.81%. Thus, the minimum wage in this country is USD 325. On the other hand, basic monthly services cost USD 65 and public transportation costs USD 47.

The legal minimum wage in Colombia is USD 265, to which are added, for the lower income populations, USD 30 monthly for a transportation subsidy. For its part, the basic basket, which includes meat, milk, rice, pasta, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes and fruits for 4 people, has a cost of USD 102 per month. Basic monthly services cost USD 75.71 and public transportation costs USD 30.61.

In Mexico, the minimum wage is only USD 139. However, according to Semana magazine, there are no more than 1000 people who must survive with the minimum wage in this country. For its part, the basic basket has a price of USD 513, basic services USD 38 and public transport USD 18.17.

Finally, due to the very high inflation of the country (43,000%), the minimum wage in Venezuela does not exceed USD 30, a figure that has been constantly changing during the year. Similarly, prices fluctuate frequently, increasing by around 4% per day.  


LatinAmerican Post | Sofía Carreño

Translated from: 'Salarios mínimos ¿Cómo está el panorama en América Latina?'

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