Is a salary of 2K EUR in Vilnius sufficient?

DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

While average wages are rising, living on €2,000 in a big city can be difficult for some people – the cost of housing, food, transport and leisure time makes it a counting game. However, the economists interviewed believe that there are also positive signs that the situation of households could improve somewhat, Lukrecija Giedraitytė says in

The average monthly wage before employee taxes in the national economy (excluding individual enterprises) in the second quarter of 2023 was €2,000.1. Compared to the first quarter of 2023, it increased by 2.1%, according to the State Data Agency.

The average monthly gross wage in the public sector was €2,088.4, an increase of 4.6%; in the private sector, it was €1,964.2, 1%.

At the same time, real wages in the national economy increased by 1.4% in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter of 2023. In the public sector, they were 3.7% higher, while in the private sector, they increased by 0.4%. Recall that in the first quarter of 2023, the average monthly gross wage (after taxes) in the Capital Region was EUR 1349.8.

Although the average wage in the national economy, before taxes, already reaches EUR 2,000, the average in the capital is even higher, as the standard of living in terms of purchasing power standards in Vilnius is also at the European Union average, reminded Jekaterina Rojaka, Head of Business Development and Strategy at “Creditinfo”.

“A decent life would depend on living standards and living needs. It also depends on the sector in which one works – the difference could be very significant if individual sectors were compared with the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

The highest wage growth was observed in financial insurance activities, recreational activities, and education. The seasonal increase was quite high, around 15% in agriculture, 8.5% in real estate and almost 9.7% in manufacturing.

However, in the same period, the average wage in the national economy increased by 12.3%.” – the economist commented to

One can still argue whether living in Vilnius on a salary of EUR 2,000 (before taxes) with all the obligations is possible.

Rojaka agreed that most of her salary is “eaten up” by rent or mortgage payments. To rent a 1-2 room apartment in the capital, one needs to have at least EUR 300, but in many cases, the amount spent per month can reach half a thousand euros or even around up to a thousand euros.

 According to economists and experts from the Bank of Lithuania, housing affordability in Lithuania has been declining for several quarters in a row, even though wages are rising.

“If a person or a household has certain obligations, for example, for a housing loan, interest rates are rising faster, and currently, our population pays one of the highest interest rates for housing in the European Union. Liabilities could put a significant strain on a household’s overall financial situation.

Of course, if there were no wage growth, the situation would be even worse”, said Rojaka.

Indrė Genytė-Pikčienė, Chief Economist of INVL Group, also pointed out that the concept of a decent life is perceived differently by each person, so a salary of EUR 2,000 may be seen differently.

The trend in average wage growth over the last few years has been good. According to the economist interviewed, the rapid rise in wages has improved purchasing power and quality of life.

 She sees positive signs

 “At the moment, the labour market remains “hungry” – there is a labour shortage, especially skilled labour. While a stable labour market will support wage growth, it may be held back by the general decline in personal consumption, which is already showing signs of slowing.

 It is encouraging that overall wage growth in the second quarter was also very close to inflation,” said Rojaka.

Living in a big city requires more spending but offers more opportunities for entertainment and events, the cost of which has also risen recently.

The economist also assessed the situation of households. Inflation has had a very significant impact on households’ economic stability. This was most acute for lower-income workers, whose wages were at or below the national average.

Although the quality of life is improving, high inflation, which was not caused by economic reasons, did not bring much joy, as I. Genytė-Pikčienė noted.

However, she believes that inflation has run its course and that a recovery in purchasing power should be imminent. Does rising wages mean more money can be set aside for more challenging times?

 “We are now at a stage in the economy where some households have already had to use their savings because Lithuania is going through shocks and trials, both economic and non-economic. It reacts accordingly depending on the extent to which the population is affected.

Looking at the overall indicators, we can see that last year, despite the huge spike in inflation, the level of bank deposits did not decline, and to some extent still grew”, – said the economist.

This shows that the population is holding up well in terms of savings, with the European Commission’s “Eurobarometer” surveys showing that a significant number of Lithuanians could survive for at least three months on their savings, putting the figures ahead of the EU average.

“There are optimistic signals that the situation is not bad and that a large part of the population has a financial cushion for emergencies. Now that we are witnessing a radical change in the interest rate environment, the number of investment and savings alternatives is much wider than when certain economic players were penalised for saving with negative interest rates,” Genytė-Pikčienė summarised.
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