Real wages could be 26% above official - research

According to data by CV-Online Latvia, the average monthly wage after taxes in Latvia was €802 last year, which is almost €200 or 26% higher than the official estimate of €603 by the Central Statistics Office (CSB), head of the company Aivis Brodiņš told Latvian Radio Wednesday. 

"[Including unofficial wages] is the value this research adds, as CSB data only show the income to which the social tax is added," said Brodiņš. 

The data was collected from 20,000 people at the algas.lv wage comparison service, providing an alternative to the official statistics.

Brodiņš said the greatest difference between official data and their data is in industries like real estate, woodworking, metallurgy, construction, food, retail, and wholesale, where the difference is substantial and sometimes 50% more than official data.

Unofficial wages paid by the employers are not the only thing that makes up the difference.

"There are several sorts of income that employers can pay their employees," told Brodiņš, citing royalties as one. Employers also often pay wages through micro-enterprises that have reduced tax rates.

While economist Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis told Latvian Radio it's true that the CSB data show only "the top of the iceberg", only revealing official income; the statistics office data still hold true in the public sector, however.

He also cast doubt on the survey data, saying that these 20,000 people could not be a representative sample because not everyone has reason to report their income. 

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