While employees at the Ministerio de Trabajo work to adjust the long list of minimum wages little attention is being given to the impact this government policy has on the workforce.
Instead of setting just one minimum salaries, the ministry’s Consejo de Salarios sets a percentage of increase that affects a long list of salaries by jobs. The amount changes every six months, usually based on inflation.
Some salaries are stated by the day. A carpenter receives at least 10,531.09 colons per day. So does the individual who fields telephone calls at taxi companies, hair dressers and bartenders. The amount is about $20 a day.
The salaries at the higher levels are based on academic attainment and not the type of job. So a university graduate must be paid at least 507,779.05 colons ($958) a month. The holder of what amounts to a master’s degree must be paid 609,355.75 colons ($1,150).
Incredibly, at the top of the list are newspeople who must be paid at least 750,481.33 colons ($1,416) a month. Workers can enforce these salaries by an appeal to the Ministerio de Trabajo.
Some of Costa Rica’s unemployment most certainly is due to advanced degree holders being priced out of the market. A number of job seekers have told A.M. Costa Rica managers that they would only work for the high minimum wage even if the job was as a trainee.
Technically, a university graduate working as a carpenter should get 507,779.05 colons a month instead of 10,531.09 colons per day.
Costa Rica’s unemployment rate is about 9.7 percent, according to government sources.
Many other countries have a flat minimum wage or one that is based on the job being performed and not on education.
The minimum wages do not include professional fees. In some cases, such as lawyers, the minimum fee is set by the professional organization, the colegio.