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RANKED: Where are workers’ salaries highest and lowest in Spain?

While the latest figures reveal that Spain's average salary is €24,396 gross per year, there are huge differences in wages between Spain's 50 provinces. Here's where workers can expect to get paid most and least.

RANKED: Where are workers' salaries highest and lowest in Spain?
People earn the most amount in the Basque Country. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

The latest figures made available from the Spanish government showed that Spaniards earned an average gross salary of €24,396 in 2019, 1.6 percent more than the previous year.

However, the most common salary earned was a lot less than this at just €18,490, according to the Annual Labor Structure Survey released on June 21st 2021 by Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE).

According to El Economista, the professions that earn the highest annual salary are those that work in the supply of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning (€52,162 on average), followed by financial services (€44,302) and communication and information jobs (€34,641). On the other end of the scale, those who work in the hospitality sector earned an average of €14,561, with those in administrative activities earning €17,107 and those in artistic professions €18,088 per year.

So, where in 2019 in Spain did people earn the highest gross annual salary and where did they earn the least? It seems that there’s a definite north-south divide when it comes to earnings, as eight of the top ten provinces are located in the northern half of the country.

Basque Country
Surprisingly it’s not in the provinces which are home to Spain’s two largest cities where residents earned the most, but in the northern region of the Basque Country. Here people earned an average of €28,032. Many people in the Basque Country are employed in industry and engineering. 

Note that the figures for the Basque Country are given as a whole as data has not been released for its three separate provinces.

Bordering the Basque Country, people in Navarra earned the second-highest average salary at €26,604. People here work in similar professions to those in the Basque Country. The region’s capital of Pamplona is home to Spain’s annual San Fermin Festival or Running of the Bulls.

People in Spain’s capital of Madrid earned the country’s third-highest salary at €25,904. While the salaries are still high compared to much of Spain, they are still considered low for Europe and low compared to the monthly rental prices in the city at an average of €848 per month. 

People in Madrid earned the third-highest salary in Spain in 2019. Photo: Julius Silver / Pixabay

And if Madrid comes in at number three, then it only makes sense that Spain’s second-largest city and its surrounding province come in next at €23,470 per year. This is expected given that both Catalonia and Madrid contribute the most to GDP. 

The two very surprising entries in the top five are Spain’s African enclaves of Ceuta and Mellia, which are also the only two areas in the top 10 that are located in the south of the country. Those in Ceuta earned an average of €22,287.

Melilla, Spain’s other African enclave comes at number five. Its citizens earned an average of €20,972.

The province of Burgos in Castilla y León comes in next, where residents earned an average of €20,867. 

Another province in Castilla y León, Valladolid comes in at number seven. Its residents earned an average of €20,689.

Asturias comes in next with an average salary of €20,650. The northern region is known for its spectacular natural areas, including the Picos de Europa National Park, as well as its dairy products such as cheese and milk.

The province which is the home to the capital of Aragón – Zaragoza is next on our list with an average salary of €20,572. 

Located in the central region of Castilla-La Mancha, Guadalarja comes in next with an average salary of €20,523.

A Coruña
Galicia’s capital and its province of A Coruña is next, with an average of €20,385. As well as hospitality, here many people are employed in construction, commerce and professions that have to do with sea, such as fishing or boat building. 

Another northern Spanish region, those in Cantabria earned an average of €19,890. Cantabria is known for its seafood, natural sights, and wild coastline. Its capital is Santander, is also a big tourist destination, given that many ferries dock here from the UK. 

La Rioja
Spain’s wine country of La Rioja is next, where people earned an average salary of €19,747.

Many in La Rioja are employed in the wine industry. Photo: Jill Wellington / Pixabay

The province home to the biggest city in southern Catalonia is Tarragona. It’s known for its ancient Roman ruins and its and wide sandy beaches. People there earned an average of €19,738.

Situated in Castilla y León, Soria might not be very well known throughout Spain, but those that do make it there will be able to admire its medieval streets and Romanesque architecture. People there earned an average of €19,535.

The capital of the Valencian Community and its surrounding province comes somewhere in the middle of our list, which is surprising given that the city of Valencia is Spain’s third-largest, behind Madrid and Barcelona. Here people earned an average of €19,313. 

Northern Catalonia’s most important province, Girona comprises the ancient city of the same name, as well as the area of the Costa Brava, which attracts many tourists each year. Here, people earned an average of €19,173 for the year. 

Balearic Islands
People in Spain’s Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera earned an average of €19,153. Many of its residents are employed in the hospitality sector, given the popularity of the islands as holiday destinations.

Another little-known province in Castilla y León, those in Palancia earned an average of €18,895. 

The capital of Castilla y León and its province is next on our list, where residents earned an average of €18,842. 

And yet another of Castilla y León’s provinces is Salamanca, where residents earned an average of €18,647. The city of Salamanca is known for its stunning architecture and famous university. 

In the Valencian Community’s northern-most province, people here took home an average of €18,576. The area’s biggest towns and most well-known towns are Castelló, Benicàssim and Peñíscola. Many people here are employed in hospitality or tourism. 

The province of Lleida lies in the eastern part of Catalonia, but is not as well known as some of its other provinces and is not visited by mass tourism as some of its other provinces. Here people earned an average of €18,570 per year. 

Located on the central Galician coastline, citizens in Pontevedra took home an average of €18,529 per year. 

The province of Huesca lies just north of Zaragoza in the region of Aragón. Here, people earned an average of €18,330. 

Another Aragónese province comes next on our list, but this time south of Zaragoza. Here people earned an average annual salary of €18,061. 

Despite being located in northern Spain and the region of Galicia, people in Lugo only earned an average of €17,959. 

Situated northwest of Madrid in the country’s Castilla y León region, those in Segovia earned an average of €17,939. 

The city of Segovia. Photo: NakNakNak / Pixabay

Another Galician province on our list, those in Ourense earned an average of €17,614. 

The province of Toledo may lie just south of Madrid, but its residents earned far less than their neighbours. Here, people earned an average of just €17,426. 

Las Palmas
The province of Las Palmas covers the eastern part of the Canary Islands, which includes the island of Gran Canaria and its capital, also called Las Palmas. Many people here are employed in tourism and earned an average of €17,350. 

Another Castilla y León province, Ávila is located just north of Madrid, however, its residents earn a lot less here, with an average of €16,993. 

The small region of Murcia is next on our list, where people earned an average of €16,828. 

Given that the province of Seville and its capital of the same name is also Andalusia’s capital and a popular tourist destination, it may be surprising that it comes pretty far down our list, with its citizens earning an average of just €16,816. 

Located in Castilla-La Mancha, people living in the province of Albacete earned an average of €16,764. 

Yet another Castilla y León province, those in Zamora earned an average of €16,735. 

The province of Tenerife comprises the western part of the Canary Islands. Like in the province of Las Palmas, many are employed in tourism but earned a lot less than their neighbours with an average of €16,649. 

Andalusia’s Malaga province may be home to places such as Marbella and Puerto Banus – playgrounds of the rich and famous, but its citizens only earned an average of €16,527. 

Ciudad Real
Situated in the region of Castilla-La Mancha, those living here earned an average of €16,483. 

Located in the Valencian Community and home to the most British residents in Spain, people are attracted to Alicante because of its beaches, great weather, and low cost of living. Those in this province earned an average of €16,467. 

One of the oldest cities in Europe, Cádiz and its province is located in southern Andalusia. Those living here earned an average of €16,390 for the year. 

Located in Castilla-La Mancha, Cuenca is known for its UNESCO World Heritage hanging houses or Casas Colgadas. Here, people earned an average of just €15,982. 

Residents in the Andalusian province of Granada earned an average of €15,982. While the city of Granada is its capital, this province is also home to the rural area of the Alpujarras, where many are employed in things such as farming or sheep shearing. But, its residents do get free tapas with every drink. 

Located in western Extremadura, those in Cáceres earned an average of €15,982. 

The Andalusian province of Córdoba may be known for its rich Moorish architecture and charming whitewashed houses, covered in flowers, but its residents certainly aren’t rich, having earned an average of just €14,602 for the year. 

Those in Cordoba earned some of lowest salaries in the country. Photo: Viktor Levit / Pixabay

Another Andalusian region that is popular with foreign residents is Almería. Here people earned an average of just €14,469. 

Located in the southwest region of Extremadura, those in Badajoz earned an average of €14,435. 

Located in western Andalusia, close to the border with Portugal, many people in this province are employed in the agricultural industry. This is the second-worst place for salaries in the country at just €13,652 for the year. 

People in Andalusia’s northern province of Jaén, earned the least amount in the whole country at just €13,450.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Spain plans to raise its minimum wage by as much as €250

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For members


Rising inflation in Spain: Six cost-cutting ways to fight it

With everything from food to electricity becoming more expensive, people in Spain will spend on average €1,100 more on daily costs in 2022 than the previous year. Here are some top tips for tightening your belt as inflation bites.

Rising inflation in Spain: Six cost-cutting ways to fight it

Rising inflation is a problem affecting economies the world over. Economists and politicians are proposing ways to slow inflation, to cut taxes, and to soften the impact on consumers.

In Spain, things are no different.

In late July, Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – the index used to measure inflation – rose by 10.8 percent in July, up from 10.2 percent in June and the fastest rate since September 1984, a 38 year high.

READ ALSO: Spain’s July inflation rate reaches new 38-year high

The prices of anything and everything from fruit and eggs to olive oil and petrol have jumped up, and the increases have been particularly pronounced in fuel and utility costs due to the double-pronged pressures of inflation combined with global fuel prices rising as a byproduct of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Electricity costs have been reaching historic highs over the past year, with prices on Wednesday, July 20th, 124 percent higher than the same time in 2021, according to recent data from OMIE, operator of the Iberian energy market.

According to a survey by Sigma Dos, 43 percent of Spaniards have been forced to cancel, shorten, or change their holiday plans for the months of July and August.

And then, on top of all that, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced last week that it is raising interest rates at the end of July, in order to try and slow inflation, which will have a direct impact on consumers paying back loans and mortgages.

READ ALSO: How will rising interest rates affect my life in Spain?

According to the Family Budget Survey (EPF) conducted by the INE, the average Spanish family’s spending on food has increased by €620 year-on-year.

All in all, the perfect storm of pressures of family budgets has hit hard in Spain.

That in mind, The Local has put together a list of tips to help you fight inflation and save some money in Spain this summer.

1. Natural light

Spain is well known as one of the sunniest countries on the planet. Not only does its roughly 15 hours of light a day make it hot during the summer, but it also means there’s an abundance of natural light.

With electricity bills through the roof, an easy way to save on energy is to keep the lights off during the day and take advantage of the light by keeping curtains and blinds open.

It’s worth remembering, of course, that many properties in Spain are built to withstand the scorching summer temperatures, and, as a result, may have rooms that are dark and gloomy in order to keep the temperature down.

Though that’s good for the heat, it’s not ideal for energy savings.

If that’s the case, and you really need to put the lights on during the day, consider switching to LED bulbs, since they can save as much as 80 percent on the bill compared to traditional bulbs, and they last much longer – years longer, in some cases.

2. Regulate the aircon 

Keeping the curtains and blinds open may be good for saving on electricity bills, but what about the heat?

With Spain in the midst of record-breaking summer heatwaves, during the hottest months Spaniards are dependent on their fans and air-conditioner units.

Regulating your use of air-con can help you save on bills. The ideal temperature should be between 24C and 26C and remember that for each degrees you drop the temperature, the energy output goes up by around 8 percent.

READ ALSO: Ceiling fan vs air con in Spain: Which offers the better price-coolness ratio

At night, many Spaniards opt to open the windows and keep the room ventilated as opposed to falling asleep with the aircon or fan on and racking up the bill.

READ ALSO: Spain to cut electricity tax by half to ease inflation pain

3. Shop around

An age old saving trick: shop around. 

Food prices in Spain have jumped over the course of 2022.

According to INE figures, in June the prices of 46 household products were more expensive and above the overall CPI rate of 10.2 percent.

These include eggs (23.9 percent more expensive); butter (23.1 percent); whole milk (21.1 percent); fresh fruit (19.3 percent); baby food (16.7 percent), poultry meat (14.1 percent), bread (13.9 percent); beef (13.1 percent) and or cheese (10.5 percent).

Being more creative with your shopping can help save on prices.

Fruit and veg shops (fruterías) are often far cheaper per kilo than the chain supermarkets, as are discount shops like Lidl and other local supermarkets. Consider going to the butcher (la carnicería) to save on meat.

Before going shopping, look online and compare prices between the different supermarkets. Make a list, and consider going for the supermarket’s line of own-brand products as opposed to more expensive brands.

As a famous British supermarket chain always reminds us – every little helps

4. Loyalty cards

That in mind, another way to soften the impact of inflation is to take advantage of promotional offers and loyalty cards. Spanish supermarkets often have 2×1 or 3×2 promotions, discounts, and savings when buying in bulk – particularly on dairy and poultry products. 

Consider getting loyalty cards at your local supermarket to make savings, and even at clothing stores, hairdressers and restaurants if they offer them. Loyalty cards not only offer discounts; you can often accrue a free service or product – shopping delivery, haircut, meal – by giving them repeat business.

5. Washing machine – know the peak and off-peak hours

With electricity bills historically high, Spain suffering heatwaves throughout the summer, and all this talk of fans and air-conditioning and keeping rooms ventilated, knowing the peak and off-peak electricity tariffs in Spain is an essential way to make savings and help right inflation.

The washing machine is well known as an appliance that uses a lot of electricity and takes a long time. With bills skyrocketing, and the price of electricity on the wholesale market exceeding €200 per megawatt hour (MWh), rising to €300/MWh during peak hours of the day, many Spaniards have taken to using their washing machines at times of the day that offer the cheaper tariffs.

READ ALSO: Inflation hack: what time should I use the washing machine in Spain?

From Monday to Friday, the cheapest time to use the washing machine is during the flat and off-peak slots. It may not be ideal, but by putting the washing machine on during the night, from 00:00 to 8:00 (off-peak), or in the morning, from 8:00 to 10:00 (flat), the kWh price can be significantly lower than during peak hour.

Similarly, another good time to use the washing machine, and perhaps the most convenient without being too costly, is after lunch from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m during another flat-rate session.

Fortunately, weekends and holidays correspond uninterruptedly with the off-peak time slot and there is, as a result, very little variation in prices depending on the time of day you use the machine, so you can wash your clothes at the weekend with worrying about racking up a huge bill.

Peak and off-peak times: 

Horas punta – peak hours (most expensive): 10-14:00h and 18-22:00h on weekdays.

Horas valle – off-peak (cheapest): 00-8:00h on weekdays; 24h on weekends and national holidays.

Horas llana flat rate (intermediate tariff): From 8-10h14-18h and 22-24h on weekdays.

6. Electronic devices

Although the pandemic jump started the working from home trend (teletrabajo in Spanish) and has many advantages, in the context of record-high inflation and utilities bills, it also has its negatives, like increased bills because you’re continuously using electrical devices such as computers.

If you work from home, consider using LCD screens – which save, on average, up to 37 percent more energy than normal screens – and try not to leave devices on standby.