Safety measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were likely to have provided a boost to employment in the EU telecommunications sector, including wired, wireless, satellite, and other telecommunications activities.

The number of people (aged 20 to 64) who were employed in telecommunications had been declining in the run-up to the COVID-19 pandemic, falling from 1 181 thousand in the first quarter of 2008 to 823 thousand in the fourth quarter of 2019. However, in the first two quarters of 2020, this number increased sharply.

In the second quarter of 2020, 1 043 thousand people were employed in the telecommunications sector. This represents a 7% increase from the first quarter of 2020 and a 21% rise when compared with the second quarter of 2019.

 

 Telecommunications employment

Source dataset: LFSQ_EGAN22D

 

Compared with the second quarter of 2019, the number of people employed in telecommunications increased in 9 out of 24 Member States with available data in the second quarter of 2020, while it remained stable in Portugal. In contrast, employment in the telecommunications sector declined in the remaining 14 Member States with available data.

 

As measured in October 2018, the highest median gross hourly earnings were recorded in Denmark (€27.2), ahead of Luxembourg (€19.6), Sweden (€18.2), Belgium and Ireland (€18.0 each), Finland (€17.5), and Germany (€17.2). In contrast, the lowest median gross hourly earnings were registered in Bulgaria (€2.4) followed by Romania (€3.7), Hungary and Lithuania (€4.4 each), Latvia (€4.9), Poland (€5.0), Croatia and Portugal (€5.4 each) as well as in Slovakia (€5.6). In other words, across the Member States, the highest national median gross hourly earnings were 11 times higher than the lowest when expressed in euro.

 

Median gross hourly earnings vary by 1 to 4 between the Member States when expressed in PPS

Across the Member States, the highest national median gross hourly earnings were 4 times higher than the lowest when expressed in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS), which eliminates price level differences between countries. As measured in October 2018, the highest median gross hourly earnings in PPS were recorded in Denmark (19.2 PPS), ahead of Germany (16.1 PPS), Belgium (15.7 PPS), Luxembourg (15.1 PPS), Sweden (14.7 PPS), and the Netherlands (14.3 PPS). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest median gross hourly earnings were registered in Bulgaria (4.6 PPS) followed by Portugal (6.0 PPS), Latvia (6.4 PPS), Lithuania (6.5 PPS), Hungary (6.8 PPS), and Romania (6.9 PPS).

 

Median gross hourly earnings, EUR&PPS, 2018

 

In 2018, 15.3% of employees in the European Union (EU) were low-wage earners (this means that they earned two-thirds or less of their national median gross hourly earnings) compared to 16.4% in 2014. 18.2% of female employees were low-wage earners in 2018, compared with 12.5% of male employees. In 2014, 19.9% among female employees and 13.2% among males were low wage earners.

The highest share of low-wage earners in Latvia, lowest in Sweden

The proportion of low wage earners varied significantly among the Member States in 2018. The highest share was observed in Latvia (23.5%), followed by Lithuania (22.3%), Estonia (22.0%), Poland (21.9%), and Bulgaria (21.4%). In contrast, less than 10% of employees were low-wage earners in Sweden (3.6%), Portugal (4.0%), Finland (5.0%), Italy (8.5%), France (8.6%), and Denmark (8.7%).

Low-wage earners

As regards the distribution by age group, low-wage earners accounted for more than a quarter (26.3%) of employees aged less than 30. The proportion of low-wage earners in the older age groups was much less, at 13.9% in the 50 and above age group and 12.6% in the 30-49 age group.

 

Low-wage earners​​​​​​​

 

The lower the level of a person’s education, the higher the likelihood of being a low-wage earner. More than a quarter (27.1%) of employees in the EU with a low education level were low-wage earners. Fewer employees with a medium level of education were low-wage earners (18.0% of employees), while low-wage earners accounted for just 4.6% of employees with a high education level. For employees whose contract of employment was of limited duration, 28.1% were low-wage earners, compared with 12.8% of those with an indefinite contract.

The highest share of low-wage earners working in the food and accommodation sector

In 2018, the share of low-wage earners recorded in the EU was highest (39.0%) in the NACE Rev. 2 section: I (‘Accommodation and food service activities’); followed by 33.3% in section N (‘Administrative and support service activities’) that includes, in particular, the persons employed by interim agencies.

For more information, you can read our Statistics Explained article Earnings statistics.

Note: The European Union (EU) includes 27 EU Member States. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Further information is published here.