A person who works full-time should be paid enough to sustain themselves with dignity. Right now this is not the case. This is indicated by the study published by the AMB and the KSNET consultancy where the reference metropolitan salary (SMR) of the Barcelona metropolitan area (AMB) is calculated for 2022. This indicator puts figures on the income threshold from which a person can live with dignity. Despite being a common calculation in the Anglo-Saxon world, it was designed for the first time in Catalonia and Spain in 2016, by the AMB itself. The reference salary quantifies a problem that has been claimed for a long time: that of people who, despite working, do not have enough income to support themselves.
In 2022, a single person needed a minimum of €1,735 per month to live with dignity in Barcelona, or €1,495 in the rest of the AMB. A couple with a child, for their part, need a minimum of €1,466 per month in Barcelona and €1,330 in the rest of the AMB.
Aunque las medias del estudio incluyen muestras de 6 tipos de municipios, según el número de habitantes, sólo se comparten los datos desagregados para la capital catalana. Por tanto, no podemos cuantificar estos ingresos exclusivamente para la Ciudad de Badalona.
Apart from this, what else does the study reveal to us? The reference salary of the capital is 11% higher than that of the municipalities that surround it. Furthermore, that gap has been increasing over the years. The SMR itself has also been increasing, rising 8.1% and 7.6% in Barcelona and in the AMB from 2021 to 2022. Within the housing category, rent or mortgage payments for to a person who lives alone represents 47.7% of the total budget and, adding supplies, this percentage rises to 63.29% on average in the AMB as a whole, a dedication much higher than the proportions recommended by government entities and financial.
On top of that, the increase in the SMR has been more notable in the homes of people with children. It will not be by chance, therefore, that there is “a greater proportion of households with children in the rest of the municipalities of the AMB than in Barcelona”.
To find out the degree of realism of the SMR, I was curious to know what expenses have been calculated as “minimum to live with dignity” in each of the 9 categories considered. To reach these €1,735 or €1,495 needed by an adult in Barcelona or the rest of the AMB, respectively, I am surprised that they are budgeted (monthly): €0 for education, €20 for transportation, or €19.50 for cleaning and personal hygiene.
It is clear, therefore, that the SMR is not an upward nonsense, but a calculation in which unfortunately an adult person does not dedicate even one euro per year to training, is limited to the monthly transport pass (T-usual ) with the discount of the Current 50%, and spend only €19.50 on such essentials as toothpaste, menstrual products, sanitary products not included in public health, laundry, soaps or household cleaning.
Looking around us, we can easily find people who live, by force, with less monthly income. Surely, we also know that they pay rents or mortgages of more than €762, which is the average cost of housing for an adult in the AMB alone. Someone might think that these people are an example to follow. Now, having put numbers into the matter, what are the collateral damage of our juggling to survive? How many basic expenses are we forced to sacrifice? How many young people see our emancipation interrupted? How many people are unable to leave homes with abusive relationships because of the inability to support themselves? How many adults are forced to share a flat? How many more mental health problems do we have from living with water around our necks? How many of these problems remain untreated due to lack of budget?
If the market is not capable of guaranteeing workers a dignified life, does anyone dare, at this point, to deny the need to regulate basic services such as housing, education or health?
Minerva Estruch, member of the Restarting Badalona association