Low wage for one in five employees

In December 2001, 283 thousand employees had a job in which they did not earn more than the legal minimum wage. This is the equivalent of 4 percent of all employees in the Netherlands. The proportion of employees with a low wage, i.e. not more than 130 percent of the minimum wage, was much higher, at 19 percent. The hotel and restaurant and trade sectors in particular employ many low-wage workers.

Many minimum wage earners still young

While only 17 percent of all employees in the Netherlands are 24 years or younger, 42 percent of minimum wage earners fall into this age category. Compared with the total group of employees, people earning a minimum wage are therefore relatively young. This over-representation is partly caused by the fact that many young people, have flexible employment contracts, such as temporary or stand-by workers.

Employees by age group, 2001

Four out of five low earners in private sector

More than 70 percent of all employees work in the private sector. The rest are employed in equal shares by the subsidised sector and the government sector. Nearly 80 percent of people earning the lowest wages were employed in the private sector; only 4 percent in the government sector.

Employees by sector, 2001

An even larger proportion of minimum wage earners are employed in the private sector: 90 percent, compared with 7 percent in the subsidised sector and 3 percent in the government sector.

Proportion of low earners per sector of industry, 2001

Largest proportions of low earners in hotel and restaurant and trade sectors

There are large differences in the proportion of low earners between the various sectors of industry. The hotel and restaurant and the trade sectors employ most low-wage workers. Nearly one in three employees in these sectors earn 130 percent of the minimum age at the most. In contrast, fewer than 10 percent of employees in public administration, education and construction fall in the category of lowest paid workers.

Wilmie Weltens