Productivity increases while wages stagnate

Thursday 19 April 2018

New figures calculated by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) show that wage increases in the European Union over the last 16 years would have been four times higher if they had fully reflected productivity increases.

It is standard economic theory that wage increases should follow productivity increases – but in Europe, productivity has increased far more than wages.

From 2000 to 2016 productivity increased three times more than wages in Germany and Croatia, and two times more than wages in Poland and Belgium.

In Austria productivity increased 65% more than wages, 60% in Spain, 30% in the Netherlands.

In Hungary, Romania, Portugal and Greece real wages went down in the last 16 years, while productivity increased.


% Increase in productivity, 2000-2016 % Increase in wages, 2000-2016
EU 28 10 2,5
Croatia 42 11
Germany 13 4
Belgium 14 7
Poland 64 32
Austria 11 6
Spain 16 10
Netherlands 15 12
Hungary 19 -5
Portugal 18 -3
Romania 10 -15
Greece 2 -10


Source: AMECO database. Productivity is real GDP per person employed and wages are real compensation per employee.

“Working people are not being fairly remunerated for their work and wages are stagnating,” stated Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.

“Workers across the EU urgently need a pay rise and this can be best achieved by the increase of sectoral collective bargaining. EU institutions should be doing all they can to enable and encourage collective wage negotiations, otherwise this unfair situation will only continue.”