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Average income covers groceries and utilities only

Month by month, citizens earning average Macedonian salaries are living paycheck to paycheck. Most wages cover groceries and utilities only, so most people in Macedonia struggle to make ends meet.

Skopje, 21 December 2018 (MIA) – Month by month, citizens earning average Macedonian salaries are living paycheck to paycheck. Most wages cover groceries and utilities only, so most people in Macedonia struggle to make ends meet.

According to the State Statistical Office, the net average monthly salary in September was MKD 24,355, and in October MKD 24,817.

On the other hand, figures released by the Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia place the September cost of the minimal consumer basketor how much income it takes to meet basic needsat MKD 8,000 higher, at MKD 32,493. In October, this increased to MKD 32,507; in November, to MKD 32,545.

Estimating the average household’s minimal monthly expenses in September, the Federation says it takes a family of four at least MKD 13,485 to pay for monthly groceries and MKD 10,412 to pay utilities.

Only these costs make up MKD 23,898, which is nearly equal to the average net wage in Macedonia.

“Any employee who earns an average net salary, which was MKD 24,355 in September, can meet only 74.96 percent of a four-person family’s basic needs,” say sources from the Federation of Trade Unions.

In covering the costs of the minimal level of consumption, the average employee comes up MKD 8,137 short.”

It turns out that in Macedonia purchasing clothing and footwear, let alone entertainment, is a luxury. According to the Federation’s figures, a family of four on average needs MKD 2,136, the price of a decent pair of shoes, for footwear. Going to the theater, cinema, or to a concert costs at least MKD 1,070 per month.

People earning minimal wages—MKD 12,165—have it even worse. They can only cover 37,38 percent of basic needs in November, considering that month’s minimal consumer basket amounted to MKD 32,545.

Macedonia’s income gap grows wide

Although the average income is around MKD 24,000, average wages across economic sectors are greatly unequal.

For example, figures show that IT employees earn MKD 61,821 on average. Telecommunications industry employees earn MKD 40,883, while garment industry workers can hope to earn only between MKD 14,447 and 15,261.

In the finance sector, however, the average income is MKD 40,140, and the average salary in the energy industry is around MKD 38,000.

Much lower paid are workers in furniture manufacturing, agriculture, farming, fishing, retail, and construction.

The Business Confederation of Macedonia says employees remain deeply dissatisfied with their salaries, saying the government and employers should make efforts to negotiate and raise manual labor wages as well as the average income of industry employees.

Business Confederation president Mile Boskov told MIA these conditions had forced many people to leave their homes and look for better options out of the country.

“As a business community,” Boskov says, “we should be aware of our influence. When we put enough pressure on the Government to lower parafiscal charges, to improve the business-climate, and to be transparent in spending public money – only then will people’s trust in the system be restored, and only then will people here be able to earn a decent living.”

Biljana Atanasova-Kostikj

Tr. by Magdalena Reed

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