Labor shortage continues to push Hungarian wages up

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The average gross wage in Hungary rose 13% year-on-year to HUF 322,955 in November, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said on Friday. Net wages grew at the same pace as gross wages, also climbing 13% to HUF 214,764.

The KSH noted that wages have been boosted by a higher minimum wage, as well as pay increases in certain areas of the public sector and at state-owned utility companies. Calculating with November 12-month inflation of 2.5%, real wages were up by 10.24%, national news agency MTI reported.

Excluding the 151,800 Hungarians on state work programs, the co-called fostered workers, the average gross wage rose 11.6% to HUF 337,147 in November, while net wages also increased 11.6% to HUF 224,202.

The number of fostered workers was slightly down compared to the 155,000 registered in October. Full-time fostered workers earned gross HUF 82,171 on average during the month, 1.8% more than in the same period a year earlier. Their number fell 24.1% year-on-year.

Regular gross wages rose 13% to HUF 284,731 including fostered workers, and rose 11.7% to HUF 296,687 without them. Excluding fostered workers, business sector gross wages rose 11% year-on-year, and regular wages in the sector rose by 12.3%. Also without fostered workers, gross public sector wages were up 13.5% in the year to November, including a 10.4% rise in regular wages. Non-regular wages jumped 41.4%.

January-November gross wages were up 12.8% including fostered workers, and rose 11.7% without them, compared to the equivalent 11-month period a year earlier. Excluding fostered workers, business sector gross wages rose 11.3% and public sector wages rose 13.4% in the period.

The number of employees was up 1% overall at 3,016,600 in November, and rose 1.6% year-on-year in January-November. Excluding fostered workers, the rise was 2.8% for November and 3.1% for the first 11 months.

The number of business sector employees rose 2.3% to 2,032,800 in November without fostered workers. The number rose 3% in January-November. Without fostered workers, the number of public sector employees was up 1.7% at 701,500 in November. The January-November figure was up 0.7% year-on-year.

Analysts interviewed by MTI said gross wages increased in excess of expectations in November on a growing shortage of qualified workforce, combined with the effects of wage agreements and public sector pay rises. 

Analyst Dávid Németh of K&H Bank said he expected wages to grow slightly more slowly in 2018 than last year, predicting net wage growth of more than 10% and real wage growth of 8% this year.

András Horváth of TakarékBank forecast average wage growth of 9% this year, with the minimum wage and the skilled minimum wage increasing by a further 8% and 12%, respectively. Real wages could grow by more than 6%, considering prospective inflation of 2.7%, he added.

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