A Mexican on minimum wage has to work 24 hours and 31 minutes per day in order to be able to afford basic food supplies, according to a new university study – up from 21 hours and 13 minutes at the beginning of Enrique Peña Nieto's presidential term.
The Interdisciplinary Analysis Center (CAM) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico reaches the damning conclusion in a new report entitled "Mexico 2018: Another social and politic defeat of the working class; the wage rises that were born dead."
Economics faculty members Luis Lozano Arredondo and David Lozano Tovar point out that the last time Mexico's minimum wage was enough to cover basic needs and still have a little left was in December 1987: "Since then, there has not been any possibility to recover the purchase power."
In 1987, only 4 hours and 53 minutes of work were needed to satisfy basic needs. That means the worker had 19 hours and 7 minutes left for personal activities, including rest and leisure time.
In October 2017, the minimum wage in Mexico was 80.04 mexican pesos (about US$4.15) for an eight-hour labour day, but the price of the daily 'Recommended Food Basket' (CAR) is of 245.34 pesos (US$12.70).
This means the loss of purchase power between December 16, 1987 and October 26, 2017 stands at a staggering 80.8 percent.
Before this year's minimum wage increase to 88.36 pesos (US$4.59), a Mexican could only buy 32.62 percent of the Recommended Food Basket. However, the cost of basic supplies such as eggs, avocado, liquified gas and corn tortillas have since rocketed by between 24 and 34 percent.
President Enrique Peña Nieto has celebrated the wage increase, describing it as "no minor adjustment, especially when considering that the minimum wage was 60 pesos at the beginning of this administration." However, the CAR price has also risen by 44.24 pesos (US$2.30) since 2015.
The study blames neoliberal policies for promoting a situation in which there aren't enough working hours in the day to satisfy basic needs.
"Those who have allowed this – such as businesspeople, governments, political parties, unions under the employer's control – have never been interested in the working class, nor in their lives or necessities of the human beings we are."