Minimum wage in Turkey falls 2,000 liras below hunger threshold

In Turkey, the hunger threshold surpassed the minimum wage by nearly 2,000 liras in June, reaching 18,980 liras ($580), while the poverty threshold rose to 61,820 liras ($1,890), according to labor union Türk-İş. Finance Minister Şimşek argued that the minimum wage has not been low.

Duvar English

The cost of living for a single worker was 24,614 Turkish liras in June, while the net minimum wage has been still 17,002 liras, according to a report by the labor union Türk-İş. 

The monthly food expenditure required for a family of four living in the capital Ankara to maintain a healthy, balanced, and adequate diet, or the hunger threshold, has risen to 18,978 liras ($580). 

The total amount of mandatory monthly expenses, including food, clothing, housing (rent, electricity, water, fuel), transportation, education, healthcare, and other necessary needs (poverty threshold), has reached 61,820 liras ($1,890).

The amount spent on food increased by 3,930 liras since the beginning of the year and by 8,605 liras compared to the same month last year. The total expenditure required for all basic necessities rose by 12,800 liras in just the last six months.

The report stated, "While the minimum wage is insufficient for a single worker's sustenance, it is impossible for a family to cover even their food expenses."

The rate of change in food prices for the last twelve months was 82.96 percent, while the annual average increase was 82.02 percent.

As for the change in the prices of food products compiled by the union directly from the market by traveling around the bazaar and markets, there was no significant change in the milk, yogurt, cheese, and meat products compared to the previous month.

The average price per kg of vegetables was 34.14 liras and the average price per kg of fruit was 57.81 liras.

Finance Minister Şimşek: ‘Minimum wage significantly increased in dollar terms under AKP governments’

Speaking to the private Habertürk television, Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek stated, “We have not and will not let our citizens be crushed by inflation. The minimum wage has significantly increased in dollar terms under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments."

When the minimum wage was first announced on Dec. 27, 2023, it was $578. As of July 1, it eroded to $520 in just six months. The minister stated that the minimum wage was $524 in June; hence, it decreased by four dollars since he received his statistics as well.

"This year, the minimum wage will have increased in real terms. The minimum wage has risen by 49%. Inflation will be around 20% in the first six months. Even if inflation ends up at 42-43% as the market expects, the minimum wage will still have increased significantly," the Minister said, adding that Turkey has the highest minimum wage among developing countries. 

"The minimum wage in Turkey is not low. We have exempted the minimum wage from taxes. This year, this exemption will cost the budget 670 billion liras," he added.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel also discussed the minimum wage debates in an interview with the online Ekonomim newspaper. 

"The minimum wage is very low for those who earn it, but very high for those who pay it. The exchange rate is high for us, but very low for exporters," said Özel, expressing support for a shift to regional and sectoral minimum wages.