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Working for a living… or not

27 December 2013

That this appeared, not in one of the usual lefty sources, but as the main story in El Financiero — Mexico’s national business daily (equivalent to what the Wall Street Journal used to be in the United States), means this is something that will have to be taken seriously by the administration, and by all of us. Unlike the United States, where the argument in favor of not raising the minimum wage is the false one that minimum wage workers can find other employment (or are only seeking a “starter job”) and — as low wage workers argue, the state is forced to pick up differences between what they are paid and what is needed for survival, here no one can claim minimum wage workers are have other opportunities or that such jobs are never seen as a means to support a family. Nor does the state have the resources to pick up the tab for employers who are paying only the “salario minimo” for workers.

I would note that there are actually TWO “salarios minimos“. Zone A is the major urban areas and the states (mostly those bordering the U.S.) where goods and services are more expensive, and the second covers mostly rural and smaller communities, where theoretically costs are lower (at least for things like housing), but then, so are the job opportunities.

Translated from “Trabajadores perdieron 9.43% de poder adquisitivo este año“, Edgar Amigón, El Financiero 26 December 2013

The purchasing power provided by the increase in the minimum daily wage (salario mimimo) for 2014 by 2.53 pesos has already been wiped out by workers’ loss of 9.43 percent of their buying power, according to a new UNAM study.

The study, by the Centro de Análisis

I guess she'd be one of those extra family workers needed to earn enough to buy one's daily tortillas.  Should she work 8 hours a day and earn a third of what's needed, or 12.5 hours and bring in half?

I guess she’d be one of those extra family workers needed to earn enough to buy one’s daily tortillas. Should she work 8 hours a day and earn a third of what’s needed, or 12.5 hours and bring in half?

Multidisciplinario (CAM) of UNAM’s economics department, found that the rise in basic commodities prices over the last year, means the new salario mimimo of  64.76 pesos only has the purchasing power of   58.65 pesos

 On December 18 , the National Wage Minimum Commission, decided on a 3.9 percent raise for the two economic zones:  67.29 for Zone A and 63.77 for Zone B.

 CAM Coordinator , Luis Lozano Arredondo, told El Financiero that this income is far below that needed to meet a family’s basic necessities.  The recommended food basket (CAR:  with a deficit continue to meet their basic needs:  the price of the “Canasta Alimenticia Recomendable” (CAR:  a basic food basket… mostly beans and tortillas, some eggs and a mango or two)  for a family of five) now costs 193.52 pesos per day .

The CAM study noted that as of  December 16, 1987 , a worker had to labor 4 hours 53 minutes a day to earn enough to purchase the basic food basket, whereas, in the second half of this year, it would require 23 hours and 44 minutes of labor to earn enough — which is humanly impossible.   Families living on the salario mimimo need to have more than one worker, and/or outside assistance (normally from extended family members)  just to cover food costs.

 Lozano Arredondo said that based on the foregoing , Mexican workers have no chance to improve their standard of living and there is no way for the internal market to recover unless emergency action is taken to reverse the loss in purchasing power.

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