One of the most important issues for all Venezuelans today is that which has to do with family income. It is common discourse that, in the midst of the economic crisis, people have to "solve" or complete to cover monthly expenses. It is also evident that the salary situation in Venezuela is extremely precarious, with a minimum salary of around 3 dollars a month, for various reasons, among which are the economic and commercial blockade imposed by the United States and the virtual disappearance of oil income in an economy traditionally dependent on so-called “petrodollars”.
En Últimas Noticias We have decided to look for "data" directly from people's responses, to try to get closer to reality and to be able to make a description of the situation, which contributes to the analysis and debate on these issues. That is why we carried out a digital survey, on our website and social networks, in which we asked people "How is your total monthly income made up?" The answer options were: only my salary, salary plus bonus in bolivars, salary plus bonus in dollars, salary plus private jobs, only private jobs, salary plus personal entrepreneurship and only personal entrepreneurship. We got 2.902 unique responses between Monday, May 17 and Thursday, May 20, and the results are as follows:
34,3% live on a salary plus a bonus in bolivars. Almost a quarter of the population, 24,4%, affirms that they only receive their salary. A little more than a tenth, 11,8%, said that they live only from a personal undertaking. A similar amount, 10,4%, only see income from private jobs. Then there are the segments that share "salary plus private jobs" (8,2%), "salary plus bonus in dollars" (5,5%) and "salary plus personal entrepreneurship" (5,4%).
Let's look at the data in absolute terms:
The "gray area"
To help us interpret this data, we turn to an expert in the field. We consulted the sociologist Luis Salas, a Master's in Development Sociology and an economic analyst. The first thing that stands out is that a quarter of the population currently depends exclusively on their salary, "which places them in a rather difficult situation." Furthermore, the “hybrid” status of income, as can be seen in our results, makes it difficult to use the old figures of formal and informal work to measure the reality of work, and therefore remunerative, in Venezuela.
“Note that if one adds the people who receive a salary plus something else, be it entrepreneurship, private jobs, a bonus in dollars or a bonus in bolivars, that adds up to approximately 53%. In other words, more than half of the population is in a situation in which they are in a kind of gray or intermediate zone between the formal and the informal. According to that, he has a formal job, where he receives a salary, but must complement it with other things; Either because they pay him a bonus in bolivars or dollars, or because he has to do work 'outside', or maintains a business, etc. ”, explains Salas.
It is also noteworthy that those who only live from private jobs, that is, they spend it "killing tigers", or have what they call an "enterprise", that is to sell food, desserts, handicrafts, etc., represent 22,2% of the population. population, a proportion very close to those who only live on wages (24,4%). This is also an important sign of the situation of the working class.
On the other hand, when we group those who receive a bonus, whether in bolivars or dollars, as a complement to their salary, the proportion is almost 40%.
Our analyst points out that "these bonds tend to be informal and tend to be tremendously arbitrary, they vary a lot from one area to another." He warns that, although according to Venezuelan law, these supplements must be “salary”, in many cases this rule is in fact suspended and the bonuses are counted as a kind of informal income that does not contribute anything to social benefits. By the way, President Nicolás Maduro recently announced that benefits would begin to be denominated in petros, with the intention of maintaining its value.
It is also striking as a fact that those who receive bonuses in dollars as a supplement to their salary are a small part of the population, 5,5%. As evidenced in another work by Data ÚN, the majorities are excluded from the so-called “transactional dollarization”. Luis Salas explains to us how this table can be made up:
“On the one hand, there are people who have dollars, financially speaking, for whatever reason, legal or illegal. Then there are those who receive remittances, that although they receive it in bolivars, in most cases, the exchange rate is equivalent to receiving an income in dollars. And then there are those who do work for companies or abroad and pay them directly in dollars. I think that could be between 35 and 40% of the population. And the remaining 60% is the vast majority of those who are located in the middle of these groups to, in some way, seek to receive or obtain a part of the currencies of those holders ”.
These are the service providers of all kinds, plumbers, mechanics, the entrepreneurs themselves. That is, all those who do not receive income directly in dollars or foreign currency, and seek to obtain them by providing a service to those who have them. “And that shows you a dollarization that is tremendously partial and, above all, uneven; and most of these people, when they perceive them, spend them immediately, they have no possibility of accumulating them ”.
One of the conclusions we can obtain from this small survey is the importance of salary. If we group the data between those who receive and those who do not receive a salary, the results show that, as the economist Pasqualina Curcio says, this "It is not just any issue, it is central." The salary is present in the income of the people in almost 78% of the cases.
Salas emphasizes the importance of this issue, due to the implications it has. He says that the salary issue is not exclusively what has to do with remunerative payment, but has to do with an entire social security system weakened in the context of confrontation and blockade. He points out that, “in addition, the minimum wage establishes a vital minimum below which people should not be paid; that is why an automatic indexation is established in the Constitution between the minimum wage and the normative basket of things that a family or a person needs to live monthly with dignity ”.
He mentions that there is currently a very interesting debate about the indexation or non-indexation of wages to the exchange rate. "I particularly lean more towards indexing, although I have reservations," he says. Professor Pasqualina Curcio has defended the proposal to index wages to the petro, arguing, in addition to the right of the working class to a decent life, that It is false that in order to increase wages, you must first increase production, which is the argument of those who oppose indexing, such as the deputy Jesús Farías.
Given this, Luis Salas believes that "to produce you have to have markets." And he explains that in the context of a blocked country, in addition to a crisis like the one the world is currently experiencing, the priority should be the national market. “With these wages there is no market with an aggregate demand dynamic enough to motivate or incentivize this production; So what you end up having with those wage levels is consumption, or an aggregate demand, also tremendously unequal, fragmented, which does not allow the activation of internal production because there is no internal market to absorb it ”.
We hope that the data provided by this study will serve to feed these debates about the income situation of the majority of the population.