Those with the highest wages in Iceland between 2014 and 2016 also experienced the highest wage increase, widening the gap between the highest and lowest earners, Vísir reports.
This analysis is based on preliminary results of a survey published by Statistics Iceland yesterday on salaries for the year 2016. The survey covers about 80 percent of the labour market.
The average monthly salary of employees in the private sector increased from ISK 552,000 (USD 5,200/EUR 4,400) to ISK 638,000 (USD 6,000/EUR 5,100), or about ISK 86,000 (USD 810/EUR 690). Monthly salaries in the lowest ten percent of earners have, however, only increased by about ISK 55,000 (USD 520/EUR 440), while the highest have increased by about ISK 126,000 (USD 1,200/EUR 1,000). When taken as a percentage, the increase in the lowest incomes is 17.8 percent while the highest is 14.8 percent.
Vilhjálmur Birgisson, chairman of the Akranes Trade Union, points to percentage increases in wage agreements as the main source of this change. “Percentage increases are the main source of inequality in our society,” he stated. “They broaden the gap between those who have the least income and those who have the most. This is a big issue and it’s important to stop using percentage increases [in wage agreements] and use increases in ISK. If people use percentage increases decades ahead there will be a bigger gap. Percentage calculations and other such measures are one of the greatest deceptions Icelandic low earners have to face. We do not spend percentages in Icelandic stores, rather Icelandic crowns,” states Vilhjálmur.
According to the data from Statistics Iceland, which can be read in English here, about 10 percent of employees in the Icelandic labour market earned more than ISK 1 million (USD 9,400/EUR 8,000) in monthly total earnings in 2016. Total earnings of managers were twice the total earnings of general workers.
Employees in Electricity and steam supply had the highest total earnings at ISK 905,000 (USD 8,500/EUR 7,250), while the lowest earnings were in education at ISK 540,000 (USD 5,100/EUR 4,300).
Directors, judges, doctors, and brokers had the highest average monthly total earnings at ISK 1,620,000 (USD 15,300/EUR 13,000). Lowest total earnings were among child-care workers that had average monthly earnings of ISK 340,000 (USD 3,200/EUR 2,700).