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How much is a normal wage?

This is the most commonly-occurring monthly wage in Norway

See the statistics here. Find out how many jobs in Norway pay the same monthly wage as your job.
Check out what a normal monthly wage is in Norway.

Check out what a normal monthly wage is in Norway.

Brian Cliff Olguin

CORRECTION: FriFagbevegelse mistakenly wrote that the most common monthly salary in 2021 was NOK 40,000-45,000. That is wrong. The correct amount is between NOK 35,000-40,000.

FriFagbevegelse have obtained statistics from Statistics Norway (SSB) showing the distribution of wages in Norway. The figures are for 2021.

The statistics show the percentages of the wage-earning population in Norway receiving the various levels of pay. The figures show pay for full-time positions, before tax.

The figures cover pay rates in both the private and the public sectors for all jobs in Norway that employers report to the authorities.

Most commonly-occurring monthly pay

According to Statistics Norway, the lowest rates of pay are jobs receiving 5,000 – 10,000 kroner per month. Most wage earners on levels of monthly pay as low as this are apprentices.

The highest salaries are for jobs paying in excess of 185,000 kroner a month.

In Norway, there are very people on the very highest and very lowest levels of pay.

Do you work part-time?

The pay rates in the table are for full-time positions.

To enable pay rates for all jobs to be compared, Statistics Norway has converted pay for part-time positions to rates for full-time positions

If, for example, you are employed in a 50 per cent FTE (Full-time Equivalent) position and are paid 15,500 kroner a month your pay in a full-time position is 30,000 – 35,000 kroner a month.

The most commonly-occurring rate of pay

The most commonly-occurring rate of pay in Norway is 35-40,000 kroner a month.

Just over 16 per cent of jobs in Norway are paid this rate, according to figures compiled by Statistics Norway.

The next largest group is monthly pay rates of between 40,000 and 45,000 kroner. 14 per cent of jobs in Norway are paid at this rate.

– This is a fairly close match with the median rate of pay in Norway, says Fafo’s Elin Svarstad.

In 2021, the median monthly rate of pay was just over 45,000 kroner.

If all pay rates are ranked from lowest to highest, the median rate is at the mid-point. This means that half of all employees receive a lower rate of pay than the median rate and half receive more.

The average pay rate is not the most commonly-occurring rate

The Fafo researcher tells us that median pay is a far more accurate measure of the standard rate of pay than average pay.

Research into pay rates by Statistics Norway tells us that average pay is a misleading metric when it comes to normal salaries.

No fewer than 60 per cent of us earn less than the average rate of pay.

The average level is as high as it is because a handful of people on extremely high salaries pull the average rate upwards by a substantial amount.

Elin Svarstad explains:

– Imagine that you and I are sitting in a room. The two of us probably receive a monthly rate of pay that is somewhere close to the median rate, 45,000 kroner. Imagine that we are then joined by the CEO of Equinor who earned 18 million kroner last year. That pushes the average rate of pay of the three people in the room up to over a million and a half kroner a month, which of course can by no means be described as a normal salary.

Who is low-paid?

The numbers show that very many – but not all – employees are well-paid for their work.

A widely-used definition of «low-paid» in Norway is a wage that is less than 85 per cent of the average pay of an industrial worker.

Last year, 85 per cent of the average industrial worker’s wage amounted to just over 37,000 kroner before tax. If you were paid less than this, you were low-paid.

If we apply this definition, some 24 per cent of Norwegian employees are low-paid.

However, there is more than one definition of «low-paid».

– In international terms, a wage that is 85 per cent of the average wage of an industrial worker is fairly high, says Elin Svarstad of Fafo.

She tells us that a more widely used definition elsewhere in the world is that low pay is a level of pay that is less than two thirds of the median wage. In Norway, that would mean a wage of less than 30,500 kroner a month.

If this definition is applied, the proportion of low-paid workers in Norway is far lower, somewhere in the region of 7 per cent.

Sweden has the narrowest gap between the lowest and the highest paid workers

– How does Norway compare with other countries in terms of differences between low and high paid workers?

– We lead the world. Only Sweden can boast even smaller differences in pay rates than Norway. In Denmark, the differences are slightly higher than in Sweden and Norway, says Elin Svarstad.

She tells us that the gap between the highest and lowest pay rates in Norway and Sweden has widened in recent years. This is because the rate of pay growth for the lowest paid employees has been slow. In other words, the wages of the lowest paid workers have increased the least.

Why is Norway trailing behind Sweden?

– Much of the difference is linked to the degree of unionisation. Sweden has a higher level of coverage by collective agreements than Norway, which means that more employees are paid rates determined by collective agreements.

In Sweden, 90 per cent of the labour market is covered by collective agreements. In Norway, the figure is 64 per cent.

– Compared to, for example, the US and the UK, differences between pay levels are small, says Svarstad.

Translated by Robert Lovering 

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This is a news article from FriFagbevegelse, a Norwegian online newspaper about working life and the labor movement.

On our website, you will find more articles that are relevant for foreigners working in Norway. We write about rights, laws, and regulations for foreign workers in Norway.

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