Survey shows women and younger workers earn less

According to the annual wage structure survey carried out by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics, the average gross income per employee in Spain in 2009 was €22,511 (up 2.9% on 2008). On average, women and younger workers earned less, whereas ‘managers of companies with more than 10 employees’ and employees with an indefinite working contract had higher salaries. Nationality, occupation, contract type and economic sector also influenced salaries.

About the survey

The objective of the annual wage structure survey carried out by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE) since 2004 is to estimate the gross annual income per employee classified by variables such as:

  • gender;
  • economic activity – following the Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community (NACE);
  • occupation – in accordance with the Spanish National Classification of Occupations (CNO-94).

The survey, which is based on a questionnaire, covers the whole of Spanish territory and is conducted among employees working in companies of all sizes. The survey excludes self-employed people and employees whose income is based mainly on benefits or commissions (for example, company presidents and board members).

The results of the survey for 2009 (155Kb PDF) were published by INE in June 2011.

The survey covered activities from CNO-94 sections B–S. This included the three big economic sectors of industry, construction and services, but excluded agriculture, forestry, fishing, household employment and extraterritorial organisations.

Key findings for 2009

Annual income

The average gross annual income in was €22,511. This was 2.9% higher than 2008.


Average gross annual income was €25,001 for men and €19,502 for women, making women’s average income only 78% of men’s average income. Moreover, 15.2% of women had an annual income lower than the official minimum wage, compared with 5.6% of men.

Income inequality

The Gini index (a measure of income inequality) was 32.8%. ‘Low paid’ workers (defined by the survey as the proportion of wage earners whose earning per hour were less than two thirds of the median earnings) made up 18% of the employees. Women constituted 64% of this group. The median wages (that is, the wage figure that divides the number of workers into two equal parts) were €18,818.

Age and experience

There was a positive relationship between age and salary level, with the oldest workers or those who had more experience enjoying higher salaries. The results showed that workers aged 25–29 earned an average gross annual income of €17,530 whereas those aged 55–59 earned an average of €27,209.


On average, workers born in Spain earned €23,019 in 2009 while immigrants from other EU countries earned €17,235. Workers from the rest of the world earned only €14,000–14,700.

Economic activity

The economic activity with the highest average gross annual income was ‘electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply’ (NACE Section D) with an average gross annual income of €50,537. This figure was 124.4% higher than the national average. ‘Horeca’ (hotel, restaurant and catering sector) and ‘administrative and support service activities’ had the lowest average gross annual income (€13,997 and €15,855 respectively).


Workers in the group ‘managers of companies with more than 10 employees’ earned the top average gross annual income (€63,150), which was 180.5% higher than the official minimum wage. In contrast, ‘non-qualified workers in the service sector, except for transport’ had an average gross annual income of €13,838.

In the middle of these extremes, ‘qualified workers in metal, extractive and machinery construction industries’ earned a gross annual income of €23,463 and ‘operators of industrial installations and fixed machinery, and assemblers’ earned €21,507.

Contract type

The average gross annual income of workers with a fixed term contract was 25.8% lower than the average gross annual income (that is, €16,701). However, those who signed an indefinite contract enjoyed an average gross annual income of €23,980, which was 6.5% higher than the average gross annual income.


The 2009 annual wage structure survey shows that, even if the average gross annual income per worker in Spain was €22,511, income levels varied considerably among different groups of workers. Variables such as gender, age, nationality, occupation, contract type and economic sector influenced the subsequent salary scale.

Jessica Durán and Antonio Corral, IKEI Research & Consultancy

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Eurofound welcomes feedback and updates on this regulation

Add new comment