Dividends rising up to 13 faster than pay

Payouts to shareholders are rising up to 13 times faster in Europe than pay for working people, an analysis by the European Trade Union Confederation has found.

Dividend payments increased by 75 per cent in Portugal and 66 per cent in Denmark between April and June this year, while nominal compensation in those countries rose by 6 per cent and 5 per cent.

Across Europe, dividends increase by 10 per cent – double the rate at which wages are rising – and reached a record 184.5bn US dollars.

It's the second consecutive year that shareholders have celebrated bumper payouts thanks to the increase in corporate profits which are driving inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.   



Dividends Q2 2023

Growth in nominal compensation per employee 2023








+ 95%

















Source: Dividends - Janus Henderson Dividend Index / Compensation - AMECO database

The ETUC is calling on European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to address this “social justice emergency” in her State of the Union address this week. In a letter to President von der Leyen, the ETUC called on her to:

  • Restore balance between boardrooms and workers by ensuring only companies which respect the right to collective bargaining can receive public money.
  • Prevent companies receiving public money from paying extraordinary dividends and ensure they pay decent wages and reinvest it in the public interest.
  • New economic rules which promote fair and progressive taxation, including on excess profits. 

Commenting on the gap between dividends and wages, ETUC General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“While people who go out and work hard every day are struggling to afford to put food on the table, wealthy shareholders are popping the champagne corks to celebrate a record-breaking windfall.

“It could not be clearer from these figures that it is corporations that are responsible for driving up inflation and workers who are suffering the consequences.

“Europe has a social justice emergency that President von der Leyen must tackle in her State of the Union address this week if it is going to have any resonance with the majority of citizens.

“It’s time to stop companies receiving public money from paying obscene dividends and rebalance power between boardrooms and workers by ensuring they engage in collective bargaining.” 


ETUC Letter to the President of the European Commission in view of the State of the Union address