World’s Best Paid Workforces

ApplyDirect takes a look at pay scales across the globe, uncovering the countries where workers enjoy the highest average salaries & other benefits.

With wealth and income inequality one of the defining economic and political issues of our age, strong focus has been placed on the growing gap between rich and poor in recent years. Whilst across the developing world, vast wealth gaps have been a normal feature – with the majority of workers subject to low but growing wages and minimal labour protections; this issue is now a pressing concern in the developed world too. In particular, the United States 2016 election result was driven by frustrations around growing inequality and perceived political failure to deal with it. On a more positive note, there’s still many societies who have dealt with inequality effectively – by maintaining strong welfare systems and high minimum wages that have also kept average salaries high. Here’s the top five based on OECD statistics

  • #1: Switzerland

Average Annual Salary: $109,941 (Nominal)

Minimum Wage: None

Taking out the crown for the world’s highest annual salary is Switzerland, the small, landlocked European country famed for its soaring mountains, French sense of flair and the German inspired quality and efficiency of its industry. Topping out the list at a sum equivalent to AUD $109,941 per annum – the Swiss’s world beating salary figure is driven in part by their ultra high cost of living. Interestingly, Switzerland doesn’t have a nationally mandated minimum wage, although the Canton of Jura and Neuchatel has set one at 20 Swiss Francs per hour (AUD $26.95).

  • #2: Iceland

Average Annual Salary: $94,410 (Nominal)

Minimum Wage: None

Iceland, that cold, mysterious land towards the top of the world that’s home to Viking legends and otherworldly landscapes also fames itself on being a heaven for socially progressive policies – including a comprehensive cradle-to-the-grave welfare state. Sitting pretty in second place on the list of countries with the world’s highest pay for workers – hardy Icelandic workers can expect to be paid AUD $94,410 on average. However, like Switzerland this country has no nationally mandated minimum wage.

  • #3: Luxembourg

Average Annual Salary: $85,639 (Nominal)

Minimum Wage: $19.74/hour

Like many European nations, Luxembourg’s citizens enjoy the benefits of a generous welfare system that includes universal public healthcare, universal childcare, free public education (including tertiary education), a generous universal pension scheme and one of the world’s highest minimum wages, which stands at $19.74 per hour. Workers in this small state also enjoy a stellar average annual salary which stands at over AUD $85,000 for full-time employment. Not a bad deal at all!

  • #4: Denmark

Average Annual Salary: $82,484 (Nominal)

Minimum Wage: None

No surprise Denmark makes this list! Like in many fields whether it be modern design, Scandi-noir thrillers or its highly progressive, forward-focused social policies, Danish workers enjoy some of the world’s best conditions. With an average annual salary of AUD $82,484 for full-time employees, workers in this country are paid very well – allowing them to make the most of the 25 days or five week of paid leave they’re entitled to. In keeping with the theme of other high income European nations, Denmark doesn’t have a legally mandated minimum wage – with employers and unions negotiating conditions for workers at an organisational level.

  • #5: Norway

Average Annual Salary: $80,960 (Nominal)

Minimum Wage: None

Buoyed by incredible North Sea oil wealth and backed up by a highly educated, highly skilled workforce is Norway. This large, mountainous Scandinavian nation rounds out our top five with an average annual salary of just over AUD $80,000 per annum. It’s also regularly rated by the United Nations as being the world’s most developed nation according to their popular HDI (Human Development Index). A minimum wage isn’t applicable, as every employer is protected by basic standards that provide for a living wage.

How Does Australia Fare?

Coming in at 7th on the list, just below the United States is good old Australia. With an average annual salary of AUD $76,363 and a minimum wage of AUD $18.29 per hour (the second highest in the world behind Luxembourg), Aussie workers get a pretty good deal – giving new meaning to the term “the lucky country”. Not without our problems of course, Australia still remains one of the best places to live and work in the world, with our generous welfare system and high average wages ensuring everyone has at least the opportunity to achieve a decent quality of life for themselves and their family through paid work.

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