Pleasant thoughts of fitting salaries

A recently study across dozens of countries has shown citizens’ satisfaction with various aspects of life. Economic growth does not automatically guarantee greater happiness, despite creating more employment and raising incomes. However, knowledge of earning more than your neighbour does seem to be a factor in people’s contentment
By Vladimir Khromov

After last year’s economic shocks, most Belarusians view the fall in their salary (in foreign currency equivalent) in comparison with most neighbouring countries as the worst outcome — rather than inflation or higher rates for loans. The fact that higher salaries are available over our borders has inspired many to seek work abroad.

The question of raising salaries is being addressed, with the Government aiming to ensure an average salary of $500 (in equivalent) by the end of the year; in some places, this milestone has been already overcome. According to the National Statistical Committee, September saw average salaries reach $484. Naturally, regional differences are in evidence, with more industrially developed areas offering higher salaries and the capital offering the highest wages of all.

The National Statistical Committee recorded an average monthly salary of $611 (in equivalent) in Minsk this August: almost two and a half times less than in Moscow ($1,376) and more than one and a half times less than in Astana ($1,004). Kiev residents earn almost the same as Minsk residents: $572. However, some other CIS capitals receive salaries of almost half this amount. In August, residents of Chisinau earned just $354 (in equivalent). Those in Yerevan took home an average of $320 a month while Bishkek residents earned $302 and Tajikistan’s Dushanbe saw the lowest CIS capital income — a meagre $231.

Unsurprisingly, average nominal salaries in CIS capitals exceed those in rural areas and in provincial towns. However, the difference in such incomes varies greatly between countries. Minskers earned nearly a quarter more than workers in Belarusian regions this August, compared to Moscow residents earning 73 percent more than Russian regional residents. Kiev workers earned half as much again as the Ukrainian average while those in Astana took home salaries which were 44 percent above the national average. The wider population of Kyrgyzstan received 33 percent less, on average, than those working in Bishkek while Moldovans earned 26 percent less than Chisinau residents. The smallest gap was seen in Armenia, where Yerevan salaries were a modest 9.5 percent higher. The greatest differentiation in the CIS was observed among the lowest-paid workers — in Tajikistan. Dushanbe workers received an average of 114 percent more than those employed in the regions.

Another interesting indicator is growth in spending power. The CIS Statistical Committee believes that this has risen a significant 32 percent in Belarus. From August 2011 to 2012, the consumer price index saw real salaries rise as follows: in Azerbaijan — 9.8 percent, Armenia — 2.7 percent, Kazakhstan — 7 percent, Kyrgyzstan — 9 percent, Moldova — 6 percent, Russia — 6 percent, Tajikistan — 18 percent, and Ukraine — 14 percent.
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