labour costs Lowest in Bulgaria and Romania, highest in Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium

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THE FINANCIAL — In 2018, average hourly labour costs in the whole economy (excluding agriculture and public administration) were estimated to be €27.4 in the European Union (EU) and €30.6 in the euro area.

However, the average masks significant gaps between EU Member States, with the lowest hourly labour costs recorded in Bulgaria (€5.4), Romania (€6.9), Lithuania (€9.0), Hungary (€9.2) and Latvia (€9.3), and the highest in Denmark (€43.5), Luxembourg (€40.6), Belgium (€39.7), Sweden (€36.6), the Netherlands (€35.9) and France (€35.8).

Labour costs ranged from €5.4 to €43.5 across the EU Member States in 2018

Hourly labour costs in industry were €27.4 in the EU and €33.2 in the euro area. In services, they were €27.0 and €29.6, respectively. In construction, hourly labour costs were €25.0 in the EU and €27.6 in the euro area. In the mainly non-business economy (excluding public administration), they were €28.5 and €30.8, respectively.

Labour costs consist of wages & salaries and non-wage costs (e.g. employers’ social contributions). The share of non-wage costs in total labour costs for the whole economy was 23.7% in the EU and 25.6% in the euro area. It ranged from 6.1% in Malta to 32.6% in France.

Hourly labour costs increased most in Romania, least in Malta

In 2018, compared with previous year, hourly labour costs in the whole economy expressed in € rose by 2.7% in the EU and by 2.2% in the euro area.

Within the euro area, the largest increases were recorded in Latvia (+12.9%), Lithuania (+10.4%), Estonia and Slovakia (both +6.8%). Hourly labour costs increased least in Malta (+0.4%), Finland (+1.2%), Spain (+1.3%) and Portugal (+1.4%).

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When comparing labour cost estimates over time, levels expressed in national currency should be used to eliminate the influence of exchange rate movements. For Member States outside the euro area in 2018, the largest increases in hourly labour costs in the whole economy, expressed in national currency, were observed in Romania (+13.3%) and Hungary (+9.8%). They increased least in Denmark (+1.9%), Sweden (+2.3%) and the United Kingdom (+3.3%).


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