Swedes earn highest wages in Europe: study
Published: 02 Apr 2013 11:48 CET
Swedes earned €41.90 ($53.90) per hour on average last year, or roughly 350 kronor. This compares to an average of €31 in Germany, according to a recent report from Germany's official statistics agency, Statisches Bundesamt.
The lowest wages among the 27 member states of the European Union were found in Bulgaria, where workers received an average of €3.70 per hour, according to the report.
Despite Sweden's labour costs being the highest in Europe, Mats Dillén, CEO of Sweden's National Institute of Economic Research (Konjunkturinstitutet), argued that Sweden remains economically competitive.
"Even if we have high costs per worker, we still have an industrial sector that is pretty competitive," he told the TT news agency.
He added, however, that it is tough to compare the wages of different countries.
Erica Sjölander, economist at the metal workers trade union IF Metall, argued that the wage can't be taken by as a stand-alone statistic.
"You have to see the whole picture. We've also had a very strong increase in productivity in Sweden compared to many other countries. It's an important explanation as to how they've been able to raise real wages so much," she said.
Sweden's productivity has grown by 2.5 percent since 2007, compared to a 0.9-percent growth in Germany and a 1.6-percent hike across Europe.
Anders Rune, head economist at employer's group Teknikföretagen, argued that increased productivity and high wages don't equal a better standard.
"It's an inaccurate method of measurement. We're not better than our competition. Not Germany, in any case, which includes some of the biggest competitors in the manufacturing sector in Europe," he said.
"You've got to compare the auto industry with the auto industry. The rising labour costs in relation to Germany are incredibly bothersome for our companies," he said.