The average monthly wage experienced a slight increase in 2017 with respect to the previous year, according to the official statistics published by the National Bureau of Statistics and Information (ONEI).
An increase of 27 Cuban pesos (CUP) not set the wage at 767 CUP, the highest figures registered to date. In 2017 it was 740, the first time it had surpassed the 700 pesos. In this way, the upward tendency of the last decade, in which the increase surpassed the 300 CUP, has continued.
The statistic shows a less favorable look if it is counted in convertible pesos (CUC), the island’s hard currency with an artificial value equivalent to the dollar and that according to the official exchange rate is equivalent to 25 CUP.
Although it is not mainly used in the payment of wages in Cuba, the CUC is an important barometer in the Cubans’ family economy, with which many products and services are paid for in state-run as well as private establishments and in the informal economy. The island’s government has recognized the need to unify both currencies but until now the measure is still pending and has not date.
By economic activity, the best paid are the sugar industry (1,236 CUP/49.4 CUC), the exploitation of mines and quarries ((1,218 CUP/48.7 CUC), financial intermediation (1,048 CUP/41.9 dollars) and agriculture, cattle raising and forestry (1,027 CUP/ 41 CUC).
On the opposite tip are sectors like culture and sports (531 CUP/21.2 CUC), education (533 CUP/21.3 CUC) and public administration, defense and social security (549 CUP/21.9 CUC), traditional banners in the political discourse on the island.
The data managed by ONEI prioritize the budgeted and business sectors of the State, which is why private work or the informal economy are not included.
Agriculture and cattle raising
Hotels and gastronomy
Transportation and communications
Commerce and repairs
Public administration, defense and social security
Science and technological innovation
Healthcare and social assistance
Culture and sports
In terms of provinces, Havana is the leader for the first time in recent years with 848 CUP (33.9 CUC). Ciego de Ávila, which had ranked first since 2013, is now in second place with 818 CUP (32.7 CUC), while Pinar del Río (813 CUP/32.5 CUC) and Matanzas (808 CUP/32.3 CUC) also surpass the 800 CUP.
Meanwhile, the lowest wages are received in several provinces in eastern Cuba like Guantánamo (624 CUP/24.9 CUC), Santiago de Cuba (659 CUP/26.3 CUC), Granma (677 CUP/27 CUC) and Camagüey (680 CUP/27.2 CUC), as well as on the Isla de la Juventud (683 CUP/27.3 CUC). The eastern Las Tunas (688 CUP/27.5 CUC) is also below the 700 CUP.
In general, western and central Cuba have a more favorable panorama, particularly those provinces with the greatest tourist activity.
Isla de la Juventud
Pinar del Río
Ciego de Ávila
Santiago de Cuba
Although in Cuba the State subsidizes a group of rationed foodstuffs and offers free health care and education, the wages continue being low in the face of the high cost of basic products.
Dr. Juan Triana includes among the macroeconomic distortions in Cuba “the gulf between wages and prices, the significant delay in the adjustment of wages to the price levels existing in the country, the persistence of markets segmented by types of currencies, the use of ‘monetary instruments’ like the converters – used to pay wages in joint ventures and in the Mariel Special Development Zone – which are applied to the wages of those workers and that actually comply with fiscal functions.”