Nearshore Americas
Colombia minimum wage

Minimum Wage Rises Across Latin America Amid Somber Economic Climate

Even though several countries across Latin America have raised their minimum wage in the past few months, local labor unions are demanding further increases. In Colombia minimum wage went up by 7% while Brazil’s increase was the largest in the region even at a time when the country is going through an economic storm.
According to study by Americas Society, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, and Guatemala have increased minimum wage. The biggest increase was found in Brazil, the country hit hard by Petrobras scandal and low commodity prices. With one stroke of pen, President Dilma Rousseff raised the minimum monthly wage up from 788 ($193) to 880 reales ($215). The reason for raising the wage was the skyrocketing inflation, which currently stands above 10%.
“The raise went into effect on January 1, raising the income of the 48 million Brazilians who earn minimum wage or receive pensions pegged to its value,” the society reported. The rise in wages is likely to widen the fiscal deficit of Latin America’s biggest economy.
Chile’s economy is not in as deep trouble as Brazil’s. But this South American country is also struggling to make up for lost revenue in copper mines. In July last year, Chile raised monthly minimum wage from 210,000 ($291) to 250,000 Chilean pesos ($347).
“The increase was well above the 4.4% inflation the country faced in 2015,” says the report. Despite the increase, several labor unions held protests across the country demanding further increase.
The Colombian government raises the nation’s minimum wage almost every year. This time, after lengthy negotiation with labor unions, government increased monthly wage from 644,350 ($190) to 689,455 Colombian pesos ($203).
“The increase of 7% was slightly above the country’s 6.1% inflation for 2015,” says the Americas Society. Unsatisfied by the raise, labor unions are calling for nationwide strike.
Guatemala increased the minimum monthly wage by about 4%, from 2,534 ($331) to 2,747 quetzales ($359).  But labor unions are calling for 10% increase.
Peru, too, raised minimum wage for the first time in three years. Even here, labor unions are not happy. Now, with general elections coming up in April, many presidential candidates are pledging to raise wages further.
Mexico has one of the lowest minimum wages in Latin America, says the Society, but Mexico has also raised the daily minimum wage by 4%, from 70.10 ($3.78) to 73.04 Mexican pesos ($3.94).

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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