Highest and lowest minimum wages around the world – how does Australia stack up?

by Human Capital28 Apr 2014
Australia currently has the world’s highest minimum wage at $16.88 an hour, but that could change next month.

Switzerland could overtake Australia if the country votes in favour of the proposed 22 francs (AUD$26.65) per hour in the national referendum on May 18.

However, only about 10% of the nation’s workers actually make minimum wage, with the rest of the population earning more, and polls in April show opinions are split on the issue.

United States President Barack Obama is also pushing to raise the federal minimum wage from US$7.25 to $10.10 per hour (AUD$10.89), but faces opposition from members of Congress.

Hiring the right employees can be difficult at the best of times, but spare a thought for HR people in Uganda - trying to find a star worker with an offer of 1c an hour must be a challenge of epic proportions.

Top 10 highest minimum wages
Country Work week (hours) Federally imposed minimum hourly wage (US$)
Australia 38 16.88
Luxembourg 40 14.24
Monaco 39 12.83
France 35 12.22
Belgium 38 11.69
San Marino 37.5 11.49
New Zealand 40 11.18
Ireland 39 11.09
Netherlands 40 10.99
Canada 44 10.25
Top 10 lowest minimum wages
Country Work week (hours) Federally imposed minimum hourly wage (US$)
Gambia 41 0.19
Guinea-Bissau 45 0.19
Malawi 48 0.16
Tanzania 45 0.13
Central African Republic 52 0.1
Kyrgyzstan 40 0.1
Bangladesh 48 0.09
Cuba 44 0.05
Sierra Leone 40 0.03
Uganda 40 0.01


  • by Sue H 29/04/2014 12:11:12 PM

    This is all well to look at the raw numbers - particularly in the top 10 countries. It needs to be looked at in relative terms
    a) What is the relative cost of living in these countries? How does the minimum wage relate to this? Is it a "livable" minimum wage or is it creating a class of "working poor"
    B) What proportion of the population in these countries are on the minimum wage?

  • by Matthew 21/09/2015 10:05:35 AM

    Yes you have to look at the cost of living but look at the poorest countries in the world they are all featured here and are all third world countries !! It's so sad I can't see these countries ever getting out of their situation !!

  • by 29/06/2016 5:32:36 PM

    Perhaps the people in power/wealth in these countries by not increasing their minimum wage don't spread the wealth around much. Which keeps them impoverished.

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