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Sunday, August 25 2019 @ 08:58 pm EDT

Government Commission Still Debating Potential Minimum Wage Increase

Employment & JobsEverything indicates it is the Executive branch that will finally decided on a new minimum hourly wage rate, as calculated by the Comptroller General of the Republic, which will affect about 400,000 workers in Panama. Labor leaders yesterday proposed that the minimum wage - which is now at $416 per month - be raised to $540 per month. Businessmen (employers) preferred to treat the issue with caution, however they have announced that they oppose the implementation of a so-called "single zone" for the entire country. Meanwhile, the Minister of Labor and Workforce Development, Alma Cortés said she hopes that the various sectors in the National Minimum Wage Commission agree and reach a consensus, no later than next Thursday. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: OK, so about 400,000 workers in Panama are making minimum wage. There are about 1.5 million workers in Panama - a measure of the total workforce. So therefore, the other 1.1 million are making more than minimum wage. And of course there are others who are "off the books" working in the "gray" labor market and it's hard to tell exactly what those people are earning. The total labor force - now at 1.5 million people - is growing daily as the economy continues to expand and new jobs are added. Every year X number of people retire out or leave the labor market for whatever reason. Y number of kids graduate from high school or college and enter the labor force and Y > X. Add to that Z number of people (foreigners) who immigrate to Panama in search of jobs and opportunity. But that ratio - about one third making minimum wage and about two thirds making more - is interesting.

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