The minimum wage in Portugal “is not adequate” to cover the costs of living in the country, which are rising at a much higher rate than family incomes, as is the case with house prices and energy costs. This scenario places Portugal in the group of seven European countries with over 10% of workers at risk of poverty.

“Adequate minimum wages are essential to help guarantee decent working and living conditions, prevent poverty at work and reduce job insecurity”, says Cáritas in its report.

And, according to Cáritas Portugal, “the level of the minimum wage is not adequate, leading to a high level of in-work poverty, as living costs have increased faster than wages”. Among the examples given is the price of houses, which “has increased substantially throughout the country, but mainly in urban areas”, they say. And another example is the “high cost of energy”, which leads many families to be in a situation of energy poverty, since the minimum wage cannot cover their needs.

Minimum wage

Of the countries that have fixed minimum wages, Portugal appears in 10th place with 775.83 euros per month (considering only 12 months). But there are six countries that have minimum wages above 1,500 euros (Luxembourg, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France). Below 500 euros per month are Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, shows their study for Europe.

But “being employed does not always mean earning enough money to enjoy a decent life”, says Caritas in its report on Europe. “Among the reasons that explain this decline are structural changes in labour markets, such as digitisation and the increase in non-standard forms of work”, they explain, concluding that it was these changes that “led to a polarisation of wages, with an increase in both low-wage and high-paying occupations". But it has a consequence: "In-work poverty has increased in the last decade in most European Union (EU) member states".

There are six countries in Europe where in-work poverty affects less than 5% of workers: Finland (2.9%), Czech Republic (3.5%), Slovakia (4.4%), Ireland (4.4%), Slovenia (4.5%) and Belgium (4.8%). But there are also seven where it affects more than 10%: Romania (15.4%), Spain (12.8%), Luxembourg (12%), Italy (11.8%), Portugal (10.7%), Estonia (10.3%) and Greece (10.1%).