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In 2014, average hourly labour costs in the whole economy (excluding agriculture and public administration) were estimated to be €24.6 in the European Union (EU) and €29.2 in the euro area (EA18). However, this average masks significant gaps between EU Member States, with the lowest hourly labour costs recorded inBulgaria (€3.8),Romania (€4.6),

Lithuania (€6.5) and Latvia (€6.6) and the highest in Denmark (€40.3), Belgium (€39.1), Sweden (€37.4) and Luxembourg (€35.9).  Within the business economy, labour costs per hour were highest in industry (€25.5 in the EU and €32.0 in the euro area), followed by services (€24.3 and €28.2 respectively) and construction (€22.0 and €25.8). In the mainly non-business economy (excluding public administration), labour costs per hour were €24.7 in the EU and €29.1 in the euro area in 2014.

Labour costs are made up of wages & salaries and non-wage costs such as employers' social contributions. The share of non-wage costs in the whole economy was 24.4% in the EU and 26.1% in the euro area, with the lowest in Malta (6.9%) and Denmark (13.1%) and the highest in Sweden (31.6%) and France (33.1%).  These estimates for 2014 come from a publication4 issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Data cover enterprises with 10 or more employees and are based on the 2012 Labour Cost Survey and the Labour Cost Index.

Decreases in hourly labour costs in Cyprus, Portugal, Croatia and Ireland.  Between 2013 and 2014, hourly labour costs in the whole economy expressed in euro rose by 1.4% in the EU and by 1.1% in the euro area. Within the euro area, the largest increases were recorded in Estonia (+6.6%), Latvia (+6.0%) and Slovakia (+5.2%). Decreases were observed in Cyprus (-2.8%), Portugal (-0.8%) and Ireland (-0.2%).


For Member States outside the euro area in 2014, and expressed in national currency, the largest increases in hourly labour costs in the whole economy between 2013 and 2014 were registered in Romania (+6.0%), Lithuania and Poland (both +3.5%) and Hungary (+3.3%), and the smallest in Denmark (+0.9%) and the United Kingdom (+1.3%). A decrease was recorded in Croatia (-0.8%). When comparing labour cost estimates over time, it should be noted that data for those Member States outside the euro area are influenced by exchange rate movements5 if analysed in euro.