Argentina’s middle-income economy is among the largest economies in South America. The country’s currency is Argentine Peso (ARS) which is equal to about $0.02 (as of 18th October 2019). With a population of approximately 44.5 million, Argentina has a labor force of 20 million people. Most people are employed in the commerce, tourism, manufacturing, and social services industries. Moreover, Argentina benefits from its rich natural resources, diversified industries, export-oriented agricultural industry, and highly-literate citizens. The unemployment rate stands at 10.1% for 2019, which is a significant drop from 8.4% in 2017. If you’re an expat wondering, how much people earn in Argentina read on below.
What’s the average salary in Argentina? The average wage in Argentina is $1.89 (110ARS) hourly, $326.49 (19,014ARS) monthly, and $3,917.92 (228,168ARS) yearly. The highest yearly salaries are in the cities of Buenos Aires, Cordoba, and Rosario at $4,511.12, $4,472.83 and $4,438.21 respectively.
Argentina has historically displayed an uneven economic performance with high growth alternating with extreme recessions. In the early 20th century, the country experienced one of the highest GDP per capita levels worldwide. At that time, it was at the same level as Canada and Australia and even surpassed France and Italy. However, since the late 20th century, economic performance deteriorated. In 2018, the currency of the nation fell by around 50% to over 38 ARS per USD, and in 2019 it declined further by 25%. Here, I’ll discuss the average salary in Argentina, minimum wage, average income per person, and Argentina’s income distribution.
Average Salary in Argentina
An expat looking to enter the Argentinian job market may want to know the salary potential. In order to offer some clarification, I’ve selected some of the primary occupations in Argentina and their average annual wages.
· Accountant: $2,786.86 (162,605 ARS)
· Architect: $3,644.05 (212,589 ARS)
· Cashier: $234.27 (136,820 ARS)
· Chef: $3.094.64 (180,537ARS)
· Computer Technician: $3,178.03 (185,455 ARS)
· Dentist: $9,423.30 (549,899 ARS)
· Doctor/Physician: $9,063.74 (528,901 ARS)
· Engineer: $3,462.69 (202,072 ARS)
· Flight attendant: $3,547.38 (201,722 ARS)
· Graphic designer: $2,728.12 (159,173 ARS)
· Hotel manager: $5,912.65 (344,962 ARS)
· Human Resources Manager: $5,291.69 (308,733 ARS)
· Lawyer: $5,647.58 (329,467 ARS)
· Nurse: $3,157.39 (184,181 ARS)
· Oil/gas/energy/mining worker: $3,589.79 (215,238 ARS)
· Photographer: $2,733.15 (159,448 ARS)
· Sales Representative: $2,605.65 (152,010 ARS)
· Secretary: $2,046.91 (119,414 ARS)
· Teacher: $2,995.53 (174,755 ARS)
· Teller: $2,733.15 (159,448 ARS)
· Travel Agent: $3,290.16 (191,940 ARS)
· Waiter or waitress: $2,453.57 (143,135 ARS)
· Content Writer: $3,380.34 (197,201 ARS)
Argentina was originally an agricultural nation, with farmers growing wheat on the fertile lands, and rearing livestock on large ranches. Currently, just around 10% of the Argentinian workforce earns a living from agriculture. Most of the citizens are involved in the oil & gas, mining, services, shipbuilding, automotive and food sectors. Most factories are situated in port cities. As a result, the port cities have lured job seekers from the rural areas as well as immigrants.
The wealthiest people in Argentina are traditional families with developed agricultural businesses and the owners and senior executives of prominent firms. The poorest Argentinians live in slums and can only get low-paid work like shoe shining or vending on the streets. Between the two extremes are citizens who work on farms, offices, schools, health centers, industries and factories.
Small town shops and offices usually close for lunch and workers rest during the hottest time of the day. About 2-3 hours later, business reopens and might not close until 9 pm.
Rapid growth and development in the country since the nineteenth century has seen more women join the labor force. Currently, women make up almost 40% of the labor force. Additionally, women are the breadwinners in 33% of the country’s households. Argentina was one of the first nations in Latin America to enact laws regulating working conditions for its women and children.
After the economic problems seen in the 1980s and 1990s, many Argentinians have had to work 2-3 jobs to survive. Government policies put in place in the 2000s have helped to ease some of the effects of the economic recession.
Argentina Average Income per Person
The yearly household income per capita in Argentina attained $4,756.395 in December 2018. The value was lower than the previous value of $5,915.943 in December 2017. Between December 2004 and December 2018, the country’s annual household per capita averaged at $3,871.311.
Minimum Wage in Argentina
The minimum wage in Argentina rose from $267.77 (15,625 ARS)/month from September 2019 to $289.19 (16,875 ARS)/month in October 2019. The country’s minimum wage averaged at 1,119.56 ARS/month from 1965 to 2019.
The Argentinian government sets the minimum wage annually and uses it in collective contract negotiations between trade unions and companies.
Argentina Income Distribution
Argentina’s economy is deeply unequal because of the country’s high poverty rate. In fact, it is among the globe’s third most unequal nations. The rich seem to be getting richer while the poor appear to be getting poorer. Nevertheless, Argentina stacks up better than Brazil and is roughly at par with Chile. However, it’s slightly worse than the US and Western Europe.
The richest 10% of Argentina is nearly 23 times richer than the country’s poorest. Additionally, the wealthiest 10% control more riches than the country’s poorest 60%. In December 2017, the country’s poverty rate stood at 31.4%.
Argentina mirrors a huge portion of the world in its poverty concentration among rural and minority communities. That is a consequence of multiple variables, like the biased public funding system that favors prominent cities. Such a system leaves education, healthcare, infrastructure and other public provisions scarce in rural areas.
Even though the nation’s macro and the micro economy still depend highly on its rural sector, a severe north/south socio-economic divide exists. The poverty concentration is high in the rural north area. Additionally, the country’s indigenous communities face widespread socio-economic and political marginalization. Most of the indigenous communities reside in rural areas where they face poverty, exclusion, and structural unemployment.
A significant portion of the wealth polarization has deeply embedded historical foreign interference and corruption with the elite ruling class. Argentina’s ruling class’ systemic corruption has contributed to wealth polarization, since the nation’s independence two centuries ago.
The first foreign investment in Argentina was made by the British Bank Baring Brothers in the early 19th century. However, the foreign money was used to enrich a small of a portion of elite financiers. It was also used to ensure that foreign investors and their local allies controlled the nation’s wealth.
Over time, foreign money and interests, large business, and government complicity became the norm in Argentina. That led to the rise of a generation of technocrats and bureaucrats, who favored banks and foreign companies over their own nation.
The institutionalized corruption had a significant role in initiating Argentina’s dramatic wealth polarization. Rural dwellers underwent exploitation by the ruling elite. The elite enriched themselves from the export of agricultural produce, while systemically disenfranchising the rural workforce. After all, the main priority of the wealthy, land-owning individuals was to have inexpensive, expendable labor to work their land. Thus, it was in the best interest of the rich to keep the rural dwellers poor and uneducated with minimal access to public services.
With the passing of generations, the ruling elite didn’t change their behavior. They continued to funnel money into their own pockets rather than bettering public services, particularly in rural regions. One of the ways in which they would do so was via a “patronage system”. The system is still prevalent today, especially in the rural north.
Argentina Job Market
Since the 2001 economic crisis, the economy of Argentina has seen significant improvement. Several years of sustained growth have allowed the nation to resume its development. Nonetheless, unemployment and job insecurity are still high in Argentina, and illegal work and immigrants are recurrent issues. Unfortunately, many citizens still live below the poverty line.
The country has a legal working time of 48 hours weekly maximum. Moreover, employees are eligible for 14 days of vacation per annum during the five years of employment. Between five and 10 years of employment, workers are granted 21 vacation days. Additionally, 28 days of vacation apply to between the ten and twenty years of employment. Beyond 25 years in employment, employees are given 35 vacation days.
Argentina has a distinct lack of skilled worked in a couple of sectors like IT, Technology, Automobile, and Biology. Therefore, foreign engineers and technicians are more likely to find employment. That’s especially true for those with a college/university degree and can speak Spanish fluently.
For the unskilled jobs, the competition is fiercer amongst expat workers to a certain degree, particularly those who don’t know Spanish. But, it’s not impossible for the unskilled, non-Spanish speakers. Such people can explore teaching English, the tourism sector, foreign-owned companies, Irish pubs, or telemarketing.
English teachers are greatly sought-after in the South American nation. Most foreigners are able to become English teachers on the sole merit of speaking the language fluently. Teaching is an excellent option for anybody intending to live in Argentina for long.
Several foreign-owned firms have set up shop in the country. Such organizations include mortgage lending firms, credit companies, insurance firms, IT businesses, and tour companies. Foreigners, who have past experience in mortgage lending, credit services, insurance, IT, etc., can find employment in such companies. In fact, the pay in international organizations is usually superior compared to most local jobs. Argentina can be a great place for expatriates looking for a nice place to start living while earning a good salary. All you need is to have a good professional background and you can apply for work in your area of professional and start living in Argentina.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.