The recent trends in Europe of rising specialty crop imports from North Africa and Turkey, and the shifting of production capacity to Turkey, can be better
understood in the light of the agricultural labor situation in Europe.
4.3 LABOR AVAILABILITY IN EUROPE
While agriculture gross value add has steadily increased in Europe, the agricultural labor market has increasingly become a burden on the industry. When asked about their most pressing challenges, 54 percent of European growers rank labor availability as their greatest challenge, and 31 percent label it their second biggest challenge. Between 2011 and 2021, hourly minimum wages in Northwest Europe increased from €9.8 to €11.4, repre- senting a total increase of 16 percent (see Figure 29). This is greater than the rise in the CPI over that period of around 13 percent. 60 61 Similarly, minimum wages in Southern Europe have grown from €4.3 to €5.3, a 23 percent increase. Eastern Europe has seen minimum wages grow markedly, with an 88 percent increase from €2.0 to €3.9. Hourly minimum wages in Northwest Europe, being the most expensive labor market in Europe, are 38 percent (€2.9) higher than in the U.S.,
where the national hourly minimum wage is $7.3 (€7.1). However, 2021 minimum wages of key specialty crop producing states in the U.S. are much higher than the national minimum wage, such as Arizona ($12.2, €11.6), California ($13.0, €12.4) and Washington ($13.7, €13.0). These are in turn substantially higher than minimum wages of key producing countries in Europe, being France (€10.2), Germany (€10.5), Netherlands (€11.2), Spain (€7.3) and Italy (approximately €7.0). Unsurprisingly, the rising wage rates have had an impact on European growers. When asked about their labor costs, European growers indicate that their labor costs have increased by an average of 3.8 percent of their total production costs since 2020. Growers expect this trend to continue, with 85 percent expecting labor costs to increase in the next three to five years. Most (61 percent) anticipate a 10-30 percent increase over that period.
60 Monthly minimum wages | Eurostat 61 The World Bank
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