For many workers in Latin America, the new year brings with it a readjustment of the legal minimum wage. This is the case in Mexico, which despite a 20 percent increase as of January, represents almost half of the minimum wage in Costa Rica. In December 2022, the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that the minimum wage would increase from 172.87 to 207.44 Mexican pesos per day, equivalent to about 325 U.S. dollars per month, according to Bloomberg Linea estimates, based on the dollar exchange rate on 28 December. Brazil's government followed suit, raising the minimum wage by 9 percent to 1,320 reais, equivalent to about $250. Despite this increase, the legal minimum income of a Brazilian worker remains one of the lowest in the region.
Of the countries analyzed in this Statista infographic, Costa Rica has the highest minimum wage, totalling about US$603 per month in January 2023. Other Latin American countries that guarantee a relatively high level of income for workers include Uruguay, where the minimum wage is over 21,100 Uruguayan pesos (about USD 540 per month), and Chile, where it reaches 410,000 Chilean pesos (about USD 475 per month). Colombia has a wage floor of 1,160,000 Colombian pesos, equivalent to about $242, while in Argentina, converting the minimum wage of 65,427 Argentinian pesos into U.S. currency yields only about $189.
These estimates are based on nominal values, meaning they are not adjusted for purchasing power or the cost of living in each economy, and so the comparison may seem unfair in some cases. Even so, Venezuela stands out in the region for its extreme difference with the rest, as its minimum wage of 130 bolivares fuertes is equivalent to about eight dollars.
Written by: Marina Pasquali
Translated by: Anna Fleck