Growth of real wages in the shade of the financial crisis


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In the shade of the financial crisis, average wages increased by 2.2 per cent in 2010. It has been the lowest nominal wage increase observed for a very long time. Despite this, real wages still rose by over 1 per cent.
Wages increased by 2.3 per cent for blue-collar workers and 2.2 per cent for white-collar workers, according to the LO Wage Report 2011.

The demands that LO affiliates agreed on prior to the 2010 wage negotiations were well-balanced and adjusted to the on-going financial crisis. In spite of the crisis, there was still a wage scope for wage-earners to share. This contributed to stimulating the economy and to the fact that Sweden got off more lightly in the financial crisis, maintains LO Negotiating Secretary Per Bardh.

Counted in Swedish crowns, wages increased more for white-collar workers than blue-collar workers. On average, wages rose by 490 SEK for blue-collar workers and by 700 SEK for white-collar workers. Average pay is now 22,400 SEK for blue-collar workers and 32,100 SEK for white-collar workers. The wage gap between blue-collar workers and white-collar workers is thus 9,700 SEK.

There also continues to be a big wage gap between women and men. Average pay is 25,400 SEK for women and 30,000 SEK for men. Among blue-collar workers, women’s average pay equals 88 per cent of men’s average pay. For white-collar workers, the corresponding figure is 79 per cent.

Between 2007 and 2010, however, wages increased by over 1 per cent more for women than for men among blue-collar workers as well as white-collar workers. As regards blue-collar workers, this situation may to a large extent be explained by increases in favour of low-paid groups and pay equality that are part of most of LO collective agreements.

These increases that LO affiliates have targeted at women and low-paid workers during the recent years now show results in practice. Women are getting near towards men and blue-collar workers are keeping pace with white-collar workers. But there are still excessive differences that can only be explained by class and gender. Therefore it is important that we continue our efforts aimed to achieve fair and equal pay within a reasonable period of time, says LO Negotiating Secretary Per Bardh.