Labour costs in the EU – Hourly labour costs ranged from EUR 5.4 to EUR 43.5 across the EU Member States in 2018

Lowest in Bulgaria and Romania, highest in Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium

In 2018, average hourly labour costs in the whole economy (excluding agriculture and public administration) were estimated to be EUR 27.4 in the European Union (EU) and EUR 30.6 in the euro area. However, the average masks significant gaps between EU Member States, with the lowest hourly labour costs recorded in Bulgaria (EUR 5.4), Romania (EUR 6.9), Lithuania (EUR 9.0), Hungary (EUR 9.2) and Latvia (EUR 9.3), and the highest in Denmark (EUR 43.5), Luxembourg (EUR 40.6), Belgium (EUR 39.7), Sweden (EUR 36.6), the Netherlands (EUR 35.9) and France (EUR 35.8).

Hourly labour costs in industry were EUR 27.4 in the EU and EUR 33.2 in the euro area. In services, they were EUR 27.0 and

EUR 29.6, respectively. In construction, hourly labour costs were EUR 25.0 in the EU and EUR 27.6 in the euro area. In the mainly non-business economy (excluding public administration), they were EUR 28.5 and EUR 30.8, respectively.

Labour costs consist of  wages & salaries and non-wage costs  (e.g.  employers’ social contributions). The share of non-wage costs in total labour costs for the whole economy was 23.7 % in the EU and 25.6 % in the Euro Area.   It ranged from 6.1 % in Malta to 32.6 % in France.

These estimates are issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Data cover enterprises with 10 or more employees and are based on Labour Cost Survey data for 2016, which are extrapolated through the Labour Cost Index.

Hourly labour costs increased most in Romania, least in Malta

In 2018, compared with previous year, hourly labour costs in the whole economy expressed in € rose by 2.7% in the EU and by 2.2% in the euro area.

Within the euro area, the largest increases were recorded in Latvia (+12.9 %), Lithuania (+10.4 %), Estonia and Slovakia (both +6.8 %). Hourly labour costs increased least in Malta (+0.4 %), Finland (+1.2 %), Spain (+1.3 %) and Portugal (+1.4 %).

When  comparing  labour  cost  estimates  over  time,  levels  expressed  in  national  currency  should  be  used   to eliminate the influence of exchange rate movements. For Member States outside the euro area in 2018, the largest increases in hourly labour costs in the whole economy, expressed in national currency, were observed in Romania (+13.3%) and Hungary (+9.8 %). They increased least in Denmark (+1.9 %), Sweden (+2.3 %) and the United Kingdom (+3.3 %).