The Bizarre Calculation Method
Many people firmly believe that the average salary is unable to realistically depict the financial situation of workers, whether they are German or Polish. The calculation includes both the highest earners and those with the lowest wages. To determine the value, all salaries are added together and divided by the number of employees. So far, so understandable! However, in Poland, there are a variety of exceptions.
So, what is the average salary?
The Central Statistical Office (GUS – Glowny Urzad Statystyczny) is responsible for the monthly publication of the average wage in Poland. And here’s where it gets peculiar. Only companies employing a minimum of 9 people are included in the calculations. Small entrepreneurs operating on the basis of B2B contracts, work contracts, and service contracts, as well as public sector employees, for example, are excluded. In Poland alone, there are over 4 million individuals who fall into the category of small entrepreneurs. However, these numbers are not absolutely certain, as individuals running a business may also be employed by a corporation.
Only then do we get the statistical average wage in Poland, which currently (August 2023) stands at 7485.12 PLN. This is approximately 1660 EUR at an exchange rate of 4.5 PLN/EUR.
Finding someone outside of Poland who earns this salary might take a while. By and large, 70 percent of the population earns less than the average. However, the trend is impressive. In 2010, the average salary was 3224 PLN.
Another measure of salaries is the so-called median. In statistics, it’s the value that lies in the middle of a specific group of numbers – meaning, there are as many numbers above it as below it. Some believe that the median of salaries better reflects the level of prosperity in a society. The median currently stands at about 5000 PLN, significantly lower than the average wage.
Minimum Wage in Poland
The true prosperity of a society often becomes apparent when looking at the situation of the poorest. Millionaires and the privileged are similar worldwide. So, it’s revealing to look at the minimum wage. In mid-September 2023, the Polish government decided to raise it to 4242 PLN gross starting from January 2024. From July 2024, it will be 4300 PLN. The minimum hourly wage will then be 27.7 PLN and 28.1 PLN, respectively. This represents an increase of 642 PLN compared to July 2023. In 2018, the minimum wage was 2100 PLN. Within 6 years, it has increased by 100 percent.
This also puts significant pressure on other wages not subject to these regulations. Employee wages will also increase.
At this point, I would like to compare wages with the cost of living, as I have reported in other posts. We also need to consider the cost of living in Polish cities, especially Warsaw, compared to other European cities.
The conclusion is sobering. Essentially, one must examine an unusually large number of statistics here to find out who actually earns how much. The numbers do not reflect reality, not only due to significant wage differences but also due to insufficient data. Those who do not know this continue to analyze and consequently draw incorrect conclusions, especially foreign institutions and statistical offices.
I always try to correct the numbers and statistics in discussions. However, it always seems as if I want to portray the country either much worse or better. What is noticeable, though, is that people from outside observe that the country does not look as the statistics portray it. From my point of view, it can be summarized in one sentence: The state has less money than it claims, and the people have more than we believe.