Workers in 7 EU countries worse off today than 8 years ago

Workers are still not feeling economic recovery: wages are lower now than they were eight years ago in seven EU member states, according to new research published today by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

The research also shows that in 18 EU countries wages have grown much slower over the seven years after the crisis than in the eight years before that.

In the 7 years 2009-2016 real wages (adjusted for inflation) have fallen every year by an average of 3.1 % in Greece; 1 % in Croatia; 0.9 % in Hungary; 0.7 % in Portugal; 0.6 % in Cyprus; 0.4 % in UK, and 0.3 % in Italy.  

Real wage growth has been lower in the period 2009-2016 than in the years 2001-2008 in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Average annual real wage growth has plummeted in Romania from 11.2% 2001-2008 to 0.1% 2009-2016, in Lithuania from 8.8 to 1%, and in Latvia from 10.6 to 1.2%.

Only in 3 countries – Germany, Poland and Bulgaria- have real wage increases over 2009-16 outstripped increases in 2001-08.

Even in 2016, when real wages are beginning to increase, they actually decreased in Belgium and are almost stagnant in Italy, France and Greece.

This is very bad news, not only for workers and their families, but also for business” said ETUC Confederal Secretary Esther Lynch. “If workers have less to spend business suffers too.” 

It’s time for a real recovery. Workers across Europe need a pay rise. Wages are beginning to pick up but there is a lot of catching up to do.”


More info

The findings are contained in ‘Benchmarking Working Europe 2017’ published by the ETUI and ETUC at

Event to launch ‘Benchmarking Europe’

The ETUC is running a campaign ‘Europe needs a pay rise’ #OurPayRise