It is always difficult to discover exactly how much people pay or get paid in wages. Potentially embarrassing dinner party conversation, don’t you know. But I have done some digging around on the internet to try to come up with an answer for you. A lot of sites ask people to enter their own wage and job type and work on estimates that way, but I’m guessing this attracts the type of person with a better salary, not to mention encouraging them to exaggerate a little, so I will try to stick to more reliable sources.
I got the information in this chart from wonderful Wikipedia. Looking just at Eurozone countries, Malta ranks 8th from bottom out of 19 based on Net monthly income (meaning what’s left after tax). Luxembourg tops the list, but I just put their average salaries in here to make the rest of us feel bad.
In mid 2012 Eurostat released figures showing that the average Maltese wage was €11, compared to a €27 average across the Eurozone. But no sooner had those figures been published in the Malta Star, then a storm of comments from Maltese followed, laughing at the idea that such a high hourly rate was realistic here. Some of the comments suggested that the average Maltese person earned €4 or €5 per hour, with figures inflated by the top earners. Maybe the answer is somewhere in between, but in summary it can be said that if you get €10 an hour here you are doing pretty well.
Eleven euro an hour equates to around €23,000 a year for a 40-hour-a-week job, if my maths are correct. These NSO figures reported by the Malta Times would suggest that this is considerably above average. Now the numbers refer to the end of 2010, but show the average gross salary as just €14,466. (Hotel and restaurant workers average just over €12K per year, based on these figures). This overall average had slightly increased to €15,013 by the end of 2011.
Confusingly enough, these figures from June 2012 (Malta Times again) show an average private sector salary of over €21,000 in 2010. Sadly, a lot of what passes for journalism in the Malta Times involves writing down numbers that they have been told by someone, without doing a whole lot of research. The commentators below the line on this piece are less accepting though, mocking the idea of such a high average. I tend to agree with the commentators, so I’ll leave the last word (or words) to some of them:
“Please, average annual earning at 21,446? Does anyone believe that? Starting wage for someone with a degree in this country is about 17,000 before NI and taxes”.
“If one person has a salary of 99,000 euros and another person has 1,000 salary, their average is 50,000 euros, but is this the truth?”
“The average salary is 21,500 euros in Malta, not many people earn that sort of money here, I like to know who is supplying these figures, but whoever it is is not living in the real world”.
” I don’t know from where these figures come from, but they are surely unrealistic”
“This is ridiculous. I am a university degree graduate working (as a senior health care professional) in the public health care sector. I am a Scale 9… I earn about 18,500 per year”
“who ever said that the Maltese worker earns €21-500 per year is telling a big fib or other wise he don’t know what he is talking about”
More recent figures from the National Statistics Office gave the average gross salary of employees as €15,722 for the 3rd quarter of 2013 (according to this article) which backs up what Wikipedia said in the chart above. This average included managers making about €25,000 down to around €10,000 for what is described as ‘elementary staff’. In the third quarter of 2014 meanwhile, there was only a slight increase to a €16,081 before-tax average salary. More useful numbers here.
I guess it all boils down to the difference between average, median and mode – remember your primary school maths? (No, me neither. I had to look it up). So average is when you add up all the salaries and divide by all the workers; Median is when you take the salary of Joe Blow who is exactly in the middle of all the workers in the country; and Mode is the most common salary.
Maybe that last one is what the newspapers should really be reporting.
money tree illustration: ClipartPanda.com