Minimum wage, yes or no: what the OECD data say

In Italy, real wages are losing ground compared to other countries due to inflation

When it comes to minimum salary, we are talking about a measure that has traditionally divided politics and the social partners and which today has become above all a flag measure. Of the opposition, which has found a unity around its proposal that it has not yet managed to assert on other fronts. And also of the majority that supports the government, united behind the CNEL document which, in fact, undermines the initiative shared by the Pd, M5S, Action and the Italian Left.

Why yes and why not, the role of collective bargaining

Yes or no to the minimum wage, for or against a solution that uses legislative intervention to address the issue of wages that are too low. Those in favor invoke the need to impose a necessary threshold also for collective bargaining, those against argue that the restriction could damage collective bargaining and have an effect contrary to that considered. In the middle there are those, like the Governor of Bank of Italy Ignazio Visco, who supports a pragmatic position: “It is said that in Italy there is already a contractual salary but many are not covered by these contracts and I believe they are the ones who must have a salary reasonable”.

The decline in real wages, an Italian problem

With respect to the need to intervene to ensure that wages in Italy grow, in one way or another, it is worth remembering what the latest OECD analysis says. Starting from the real salary. There was a drop of close to 7% in the comparison between the first quarter of 2023 and the first quarter of 2022. A figure above the average of the 34 OECD countries, where wages fell on average by 3.8%. The latest Employment Outlook also says something else. The drop in wages in Italy was even higher if you look at the lowest pay band, with a loss of 10.3%, compared to an OECD average of 3.5%.

The price paid to inflation, the most unfair of taxes

Why does the trend that the OECD data describes with implacable precision occur? Because the collapse of real wages is the first consequence of the increase in inflation which, as is known, must be considered the most unfair of taxes. By affecting those who earn little and those who earn more equally, the rise in prices has a direct effect on fixed incomes and a much more significant effect on those with lower wages. The OECD data therefore say something that must go beyond, and come before, any flag measure: it is essential to quickly reverse a trend that impoverishes not only workers but the entire economy. With or without a minimum wage by law, these data must be taken into account. (By Fabio Insenga)