How inflation subverts the issue of low wages

His beginnings as a security guard, Alexandre Cornu, 45, remembers him perfectly. « Hired on September 19, 2000. He paid about 7,000 francs! Yes, at that time, it was still the Franks! », smiles behind his thin glasses, one of which is broken. It was the minimum wage at the time. Alexandre was then in the first level of the salary table. “I thought I would have a good evolution in this job, I was wrong”he loosens bitterly. Today, a fire and rescue officer in one of the Defense towers, he has risen two steps in rank. But, after twenty-two years of experience, he is earning minimum wage again: “caught up” for the minimum wage, as he says, which has increased faster than his salary.

C’est l’un des effets collatéraux de l’inflation que la dernière estimación de l’Insee mesure en France à 5.6% sur un an en septembre, après 5.9% en août, et même 6.1% en July. Since its creation in 1950, the minimum wage is indexed to the consumer price index and increases when the latter does the same. In a “normal” year, there is only one revision, the 1Ahem January. But, since 2021, he has known four: at 1Ahem October 2021, to 1Ahem January 2022, to 1Ahem May and again on the 1stAhem August, that is, a total of +7.76% in one year, which means 98.45 euros more net per month. The minimum wage now stands at 11.07 euros gross per hour, or 1,678.95 euros gross per month.

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However, 7.76% is still more than a year’s inflation. Because the minimum wage for interprofessional growth is not only indexed to the consumer price index but also partially to increases in the average hourly wage of workers and employees. Furthermore, its level serves as the basis for the entire low-wage architecture in France.

A choice made to prevent the minimum wage from disappearing, as happened with its predecessor, the smig (minimum guaranteed interprofessional wage), between 1951 and 1967. It had then progressed much less rapidly than the average French wage, driven by growth and productivity gains. . Since 1982, the level of the minimum wage has stabilized between 58% and 63% of the average wage. Beyond this automatic increase, there has only been one additional “push” since 2007, following the election of François Hollande. Since then, we have been strictly satisfied with the legal revaluation. More favorable in times of inflation.

For 2022, the latest figures available from the Ministry of Labor’s research, studies and statistics animation directorate indicate that the basic hourly wage of workers and employees had increased, at the end of June, by 3.5% in one year , and the monthly base salary of all employees by 3.1%. “Since the minimum wage is indexed to prices, and not to the rest of the wages, and since these are not increasing at the same rate at the moment, we are witnessing a narrowing of the gap between the minimum wage and the rest of the wages. . .emphasizes Jérôme Gautié, professor of economics at Paris-I-Panthéon-Sorbonne. This creates a phenomenon of wage flattening at the bottom of the hierarchy, both in the private and public sectors. »

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