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What Country Has The Lowest Minimum Wage?

Post by TCWGlobal
February 21, 2024
What Country Has The Lowest Minimum Wage?

How Low Can You Go?

Hey there!

Ever wondered what it’s like when your paycheck doesn’t stretch as far as you thought it would? That’s where the concept of minimum wage comes into play. It’s like the safety net of paychecks – the least you can earn for a hard day’s work, guaranteed by law. It’s a global affair, with nearly every country having its own twist on what they consider the fairest minimum wage, tailored to local living costs and economic vibes.

It's a global playbook with a local twist, ensuring you get the bare minimum in your bank for your daily grind, influenced by the cost of living and the economy's pulse in your corner of the world. It's all about balancing fair pay with fiscal realities, country by country.

For example, Canada’s got a provincial patchwork of pay floors, while the UK’s minimum wage takes a bow to your birthday candles each year. And then you have the minimalist approach from Sweden, Norway, and Italy – countries that say “nope” to a legal minimum wage. But don’t worry, it’s not a free-for-all; they have other systems to ensure wages stay fair.

Now, for businesses looking to branch out internationally, this is where things get real. Currency values and the cost of living love to dance together, which means what’s considered a decent wage in one place might barely buy a cup of coffee in another. That’s why the paycheck that’s plenty in one country might be peanuts in another.

But remember, the lowest legal paycheck doesn’t give you the full picture of average earnings in any place. It’s just there to make sure workers aren’t getting short-changed. We’re diving deep into which country has the bargain basement of minimum wages and how those dollars stack up in the US money market.

And here’s the good news for you – TCWGlobal knows this whole minimum wage maze like the back of our hand. Whether you’re looking to hire in Houston or Halifax, we’ve got the intel on what’s fair wage-wise. With our knack for nailing down the nitty-gritty of pay laws and living costs, we can help you navigate the complex world of international hiring without a hitch.

So, if you’re planning on expanding your team across borders, TCWGlobal’s your go-to for keeping things legal, fair, and square.

The Lowest Legally Mandated Minimum Wage in the World

If we consider the entire world, right now, in 2024, the lowest minimum wage mandated by law anywhere can be found in Cuba. Astoundingly, this is set at $9 USD per month. This is equivalent to 225 Cuban Pesos. However, employees in Cuba must be provided food for free by their employer. This has been the law since 2005.

  • The next lowest minimum wage in the world is found in Bangladesh, where it is mandated by law to be 12,500 Bangladeshi taka (BDT) or $114 USD a month. Half of the working population of Bangladesh works within the agricultural sector, with the rest working mainly between the industrial and the manufacturing sectors.
  • The Central African Republic is among the lowest minimum wage in the world, at 218.75 CFA Francs per hour, which is equivalent to .36 USD per hour.
  • In Kyrgyzstan, the minimum wage was updated in 2024 and is among the lowest is the world, at 2,460 Kyrgyzstani SOM. This is equivalent to $27.54 per month for a full-time employee.
  • Tanzania makes the list for lowest minimum rates in the world, with a variable minimum wage based on sector. At its lowest, even after being updated in 2024, the minimum wage in Tanzania is 60,000 TZS (Tanzania Shilling). This amount is approximately $23.59USD, which is a monthly wage.
  • In the Gambia, the sixth lowest minimum wage in the world, when approximated against the US dollar, comes in at $1.25 per day. This amount is 50 Dalasi, which is the local currency in Gambia.
  • Malawi has as extremely low minimum rate based on a global comparison, at 1.14 USD or 1,923.08 MK per day.
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the lowest minimum wages in the world at around $1.83 USD per day, which is 1,680 CFR (Congolese Francs).
  • Liberia has a mandated minimum wage law setting the lowest allowable wage at approximately $.31 USD per hour, which is 15 Liberian Dollars.

Other Countries with Minimum Wage under $500 USD Monthly

Many designations of countries where the wages are compared get broken down by being either under, or over, $500 per month in a US dollar equivalent.

This would also include the following countries currently:

  • Brazil has a monthly minimum wage law, which varies from one state to the next. In 2023 the minimum wage in Brazil ranges from 1,412 Brazilian Real Or $292.50 USD.
  • Georgia has a very low minimum wage, at 115 Georgian lari (GEL) per month for any public employees, with only 20 Georgian lari per month for private all sector workers. That is around 7.45 to 42.84 USD a month. This is one of the longest running minimum wage rates, as it has not changed for 30 years.
  • Colombia has a review of the national minimum wage law every January. In January 2024, the minimum wage was set at a monthly rate of 1,300,000 Colombian Pesos. This might sound like a lot, but it is only equivalent to $340.
  • Sierra Leone offers a government regulated minimum wage of 800 Sierra Leonean leones (SLL) per month, which is around $40.65 USD.

El Salvador set a monthly minimum wage per sector in 2018, the lowest of which is at $304.17 USD.

Bulgaria offers a monthly minimum wage guarantee of 933 Bulgarian Leva, which comes in at $503.47 .

Guatemala has a variable minimum wage rate based on the sector. There are two levels of minimum wages (called economic circumscription) however, with non-agricultural workers able to rely on GTQ 3,166 per month (about $404) and agricultural workers receiving the lowest minimum wage of GTQ 3,073 (roughly $392) in level 1. In the last level (level 2), rates are even lower. Level 2 agricultural sector minimum wage rates per month come in at GTQ 2,957 and non-agricultural workers in level 2 earn no less than GTQ3,077 per month. Part of the minimum wage law in Guatemala requires companies to pay an extra GTQ 250 per month to each employee, which can be paid monthly or annually.

Guinea Bissau offers 59,000 West African Francs ($101) per month, which is among the lower rates across the globe.

Indonesia has a different minimum wage rate in each district, with provincial authorities setting the rates. The lowest minimum wage rate in Indonesia is 12,238 Indonesian Rupiah (about $0.86 per hour), or 1,958,169.60 per month ($136). In some areas the minimum wage rate can be as high as 4,901,798 ($326) per month.

Low Minimum Wage Countries with High Fluctuations

An interesting note about minimum wage rates across the world is that they are not all as long-term in nature as what might be expected. In the US, for example, minimum wage rates are on the books for a long time compared to other countries, which might be reviewed every quarter.

An example of this is Argentina, where the law requires the lowest minimum wage to be reviewed at least four times per year. This is a result of inflation, and the Ministry of Labor announced an upward-only trend in the lowest minimum wage allowed. In 2023, the minimum wage in Argentina went from ARS 80.342 per month in April. In May 2023, the rate increased to ARS 84,512. By June 2023, the rate increased again to ARS 87,987, which is equivalent to USD $106.56 . In December 2023, the minimum wage rose yet again to ARS 156,000 or $188.92 USD.

This example shows how important it is to get a grasp on historical wage rates in any country you wanted to do business in just in case the history of minimum wage rates changes often.

Other Countries with Low Minimum Wage Rates

Malaysia has a minimum monthly wage rate of 1,500 Malaysian Ringgit ($317).

Morocco has a low minimum wage rate among its neighboring countries, with workers able to expect no less than 2,970 Moroccan Dirham per month (about $297).

Nicaragua has a sector-based monthly minimum wage law, ranging from the lowest for the agricultural sector at NIO 5,196.34 ($142) to 11,628 ($318.29) for the construction sector as well as financial institutions and insurance.

Pakistan has a varied minimum wage rate based on province. The average rate is 25,000 Pakistani Rupees ($111) per month.

Peru has a monthly minimum wage law of PEN 1025 (about $267).

A Snapshot of the Lowest Minimum Wage Across the World

If you are curious about which country has the lowest minimum wage in the world and where they are, any review would include the following:

  • Gambia, which has a monthly minimum wage rate equivalent to $23.
  • Kyrgyzstan, coming in as $27.54 per month.
  • Ukraine, with a low minimum wage equivalent to $193 monthly.

It is important to remember that some minimum wage laws are based on monthly amounts, and some are based on hourly paid rates. If the amount is paid monthly, then it is considered to be full-time work unless otherwise stated.

Some minimum wage rates are also dependent on the sector they fall in, and at times even on other categorizations such as based on age. It can be seen that globally, in the countries with the lowest minimum wage rates by law, it is always the agricultural sector that is paid the least, with financial services and insurance companies paying the most.

At times a breakdown of private sector vs public sector happens, and it is noteworthy that when it does, there seems to be a minimum wage rate for private sector employees but not for public sector employees. The reasons for this are likely different from one country to the next, but it is a reminder that minimum wage laws are created in every country for the purpose of ensuring that private sector businesses do not profit from labor or services created by people who are not minimally paid for their work.


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The Lowest Minimum Wage in the World vs. the True Cost of Creating Employment

It is worth noting that identifying the lowest minimum wage in the world is not the same as the true cost of employment in any specific region. There is definitely a link between low minimum rates and underdeveloped economies. For this reason, companies who look to expand into a specific region simply based on the lowest minimum wage in the world that they could find, could easily find that the true cost of hiring an employee is much greater, since a higher investment will be needed to facilitate a new business in the region.

There might be higher investment costs in technology requirements for instance, such as running secure internet lines backed by newly installed power cables to allow for constant electricity.

There could easily be contributory requirements that do not fall into the minimum wage rate for any country but which are a financial requirement for any company that hires an employee. Every employee would, therefore, have a higher cost to their wage than can be discerned from considering their rate of pay, even when it is based on the lowest minimum wage rate possible.

Transportation can often be a key issue for employees in countries with the lowest minimum wage rates. This can necessitate that the company take measures to ensure employees are able to get to work at all, including running a bus to pick them up, or providing them with transportation fare on top of their minimum wage-based payment.

Areas of the world which are underdeveloped also often have security issues in areas of that region which are growing. There is also a regular link between countries with the lowest minimum wage rates in the world, and countries where security at businesses is taken seriously. Extra staff requirements for instance, to provide human security, as well as the inclusion of CCTV, can bring another layer of excess cost beyond the minimum wage paid to employees working within the property.

It is also quite likely that training will need to be increased in countries with new business concepts, so there is a link between countries with low minimum wage laws, and investment in people and processes. Infrastructure and technological investment always require a rollout of new processes, which means more trainers on hand to train people. Sometimes things can get quite pricey, and the lowest minimum rate in the world can quickly turn into an average cost of doing business nationally, if the wrong region is chosen for any specific type of business.

Let Us Elevate Your Global Hiring Strategy

When it comes to global expansion, the sticker price of minimum wage is just the tip of the iceberg. Training, infrastructure, security, and transportation can drastically escalate the true cost of onboarding new talent. Savvy businesses look beyond the surface, opting for a comprehensive analysis that accounts for the multifaceted financial and operational impacts.

Let TCWGlobal be your seasoned navigator through the complexities of international wage rates and compliance. Our expertise does more than demystify minimum wages; it illuminates the entire landscape, enabling your business to forge a path that’s as strategic as it is informed.

Give us a call today!

Final Thoughts

We recommend you refer to official government resources or reliable labor statistics databases for the most up-to-date information.

The World Population Review and track the minimum wage rates in different countries, and these can be good starting points for up-to-date information.

To get the most recent information about minimum wages worldwide, including which country currently has the lowest minimum wage, you should consult these resources directly or other similar official databases. Keep in mind that while some countries may not have a statutory minimum wage, such as some Scandinavian countries and Italy, this does not necessarily mean that workers in those countries earn less, as wage levels may be determined by collective bargaining agreements or other mechanisms.

For more information, check out these search results.

Post by TCWGlobal
February 21, 2024