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Wage hikes may revert emigration

July 3rd, 2019

A liberal analyst thinks that although wages are still way higher in western Europe, Hungarians working there may still ponder returning home as salaries in Hungary have been steadily increasing for years now.

On Index, Ede Záborszky comments on a report by the Central Office of Statistics according to which Hungary’s migration balance was positive last year, for the first time in a decade. More Hungarians returned home than left their country to seek employment abroad. Following yearly two-digit real wage increases for the past four years, he writes, the average construction worker still gets only 60 per cent of the wage of his colleague in Germany. Since Hungary’s accession to the EU in 2004, tens of thousands lhave left each year and at least half a million are employed in western Europe. As a result, skilled labour is in short supply in Hungary which has resulted in substantial wage hikes. Skilled workers, Záborszky suggests, may find it worthwhile to return to Hungary despite the still significantly lower wages here because of the lower costs of living and the proximity of their families. The main downside is that employers often try to evade taxes by giving them at least half of their salaries ‘under the counter’, jeopardising pension and health leave levels.

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