Negativni učinki minimalne plače (v Nemčiji), do katerih ni prišlo

Tja, kljub vsem skrbem nemških ekonomistov tudi v Nemčiji (enako kot drugod po svetu), kot kaže še sveža študija, uvedba minimalne plače ni prinesla negativnih učinkov. Zaposlenost se ni zmanjšala, brezposelnost se ni povečala. Zgodilo se je nasprotno, zaposlenost se je povečala. Zmanjšalo se je le število prekernih zaposlitev v obliki “mini dela”, in sicer večinoma zaradi njihove prekvalifikacije v redno zaposlitev.

Since 1 January 2015 a statutory minimum wage of € 8.50 per hour applies in Germany. In 2014 between 4.8 and 5.4 million employees still earned a lower hourly wage. Even if it cannot yet be stated exactly how many employees benefitted from the introduction of the minimum wage, above-average wage increases in the classical low-wage sectors indicate significant effects of the introduction of the minimum wage. Even collective bargaining policies benefitted from the introduction of a minimum wage and contributed to the further increase of the lowest wage groups.The negative effects on the labour market that were predicted by many economists did not materialise. On the contrary, employment in Germany has seen a continuous increase. Merely the so-called ‘mini jobs’ (a special form of marginal part-time employment) show a strong decline, but many of these were transformed into regular jobs requiring social insurance.

Against the background of these positive experiences, discussions are currently being held on the future adjustment of the minimum wage that is to come into effect at the beginning of 2017. Following the German Minimum Wage Act the Minimum Wage Commission – composed by employers and trade union representatives – has to give a recommendation by taking into account the recent developments of collectively agreed wages. According to the wage index of the Federal Statistical Office, collectively agreed wages increased by a total of about 5.5% in 2014 and 2015. Thus, the minimum wage would have to be increased to about € 9. Furthermore, it should be examined whether this level of the minimum wage actually guarantees “appropriate minimum protection for employees”, as required by the Minimum Wage Act.

Vir: Amlinger, Bispinck & Schulten, WSI Report 28e, Januar 2016

Contrary to the horror scenarios of many German economists,  registered unemployment in Germany is today lower than it has been for a long time. According to the Federal Employment Agency, there were 713,000 more employees covered by social security in October 2015 than in the same month of 2014. This represents an increase of 2.3%. In Eastern Germany the employment growth was slightly lower – at 1.9% – than in West Germany with 2.4%. The strongest increase in employment can be observed in hotels and restaurants with 6.6% followed by other economic services, agency work, care work and social services, transport and storage. Thus, a range of classic low-wage industries, which had to cope with particularly high wage increases, also experienced a higher than average employment growth.

Even so, a decline of nearly 133,000 jobs was observed among the marginally employed.with a particularly pronounced drop of 4.7% in Eastern Germany compared to a modest decline of 1.3% in West Germany. However, the reduced number of mini-jobs does not necessarily correspond to an equal number of job losses. According to a study of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) just over half of that decline can be explained by the affected employees having changed to an employment relationship subject to social insurance. About 40% of the former mini-jobbers have not been accounted for, but the IAB assumes that the majority of these are no longer available to the labour market. The share of former mini-jobbers who then reported to be unemployed was very low at 4%.

In conclusion, it can thus be said that so far no indications can be found that the introduction of the statutory minimum wage has had negative effects on the German labour market. To a limited extent it may even be assumed that it has brought an additional gain in purchasing power that has strengthened domestic demand and thus the creation of new employment opportunities.

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Vir: Amlinger, Bispinck & Schulten, Social Europe, Februar 2016

Ups, kaj bodo pa zdaj rekli naši jastrebi? Morda bi se vseeno morali kdaj ozreti nazaj k očetoma klasične ekonomije Adamu Smithu in Davidu Ricardu, ki sta se zavzemala za “dostojne” plače, ki omogočajo dostojno življenje v skladu z družbenimi normami. Ali pa k ameriškemu predsedniku F.D. Rooseveltu, ki je ob napovedi uvedbe minimalne plače leta 1933 uporabil natanko enake argumente kot Smith in Ricardo. Še več, povedal je, da “nobeno podjetje, katerega obstoj je odvisen od plačevanja dostojne plače, ne bi smelo imeti pravice nadaljevati poslovanja v tej državi“:

Objection: Raising the minimum wage will hurt business and reduce employment.

“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” (1933, Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act)

Objection: $10.10 an hour is too much, maybe $9.

“By living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level — I mean the wages of a decent living.” (1933, Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act)

Objection: Once you add in public assistance and tax credits, $9 an hour is plenty, and business could survive that.

“Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you – using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.” (1938, Fireside Chat, the night before signing the Fair Labor Standards Act that instituted the federal minimum wage)

Objection:   The minimum wage is a government mandate that interferes with the free market.

“All but the hopelessly reactionary will agree that to conserve our primary resources of man power, government must have some control over maximum hours, minimum wages, the evil of child labor and the exploitation of unorganized labor.” (1937, Message to Congress upon introduction of the Fair Labor Standards Act)

Vir: Teresa Tritch, New York Times

Naši jastrebi pozabljajo dvoje. Prvič, da nizke plače ne pomenijo višje konkurenčnosti. Najbolj konkurenčne države na svetu (katerokoli lestvico mednarodne konkurenčnosti pogledate) niso države z najnižjimi plačami, pač pa najbolj razvite države z najvišjimi plačami – vključno s Skandinavskimi državami, Švico in Singapurjem. Konkurenčnost gospodarstva ni v nizkih stroških, pač pa v proizvodih in storitvah z visoko dodano vrednostjo in inovativnosti. Visoka raven plač zgolj eliminira podjetja in panoge, ki svoj poslovni model utemeljujejo na nizkih plačah in sili podjetja k večji inovativnosti in doseganju visoke dodane vrednosti, ki lahko prenese visoke stroške plač. Največje bogastvo podjetja je človeški kapital, torej znanje in veščine zaposlenih. Oboje pa ima temu primerno ceno.

In drugič, visoka raven plač in primeren trend njihove rasti (v skladu z rastjo produktivnosti) pomenita tudi višjo raven in rast agregatnega povpraševanja. Ali drugače povedano, če podjetja plačujejo višje plače, lahko tudi zaposleni več trošijo in s tem spodbujajo rast dodatnih investicij, oboje pa žene gospodarsko rast. Kadar povečanega povpraševanja ni od zunaj, zadrževanje rasti plač (pod rastjo produktivnosti), vedno udari nazaj v obliki stagnacije agregatnega povpraševanja, t.j. BDP.

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