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Wages in Uganda. Wage Indicator survey 2012

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Besamusca, J., Tijdens, K.G. (2012) Wages in Uganda. Wage Indicator survey 2012. Amsterdam, Wage Indicator Foundation, Wage Indicator Data Report October 2012 (EN)


This WageIndicator Data Report presents the results of the face-to-face WageIndicator survey in Uganda, conducted between the 15 May and 12 June 2012. In total 1306 persons from all administrative regions were interviewed; 51% were men and 46% were under 30 years old. The workers in the survey live in households with on average 4 members, half of the people live with children and partners. On a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high), less than half of the respondents (43%) rate their lives a six or higher and only 13% score an 8 or higher. On average, the interviewees score a 5.

Nearly half of the workers had diplomas from secondary education (48%). Five per cent of workers followed no formal education, 14% stopped at primary education, 16% have a college degree and 17% a university degree. On average, respondents worked for 10 years. Half the people in the sample work in an organization with 10 or fewer employees (51%). The average working week of respondents is almost 60 hours and they work six days per week. Two in ten workers regularly work shifts, 51% work evenings, seven in ten workers report working Saturdays, while four in ten work Sundays.

The biggest group of interviewees worked in trade, transport and hospitality (32%). Just over a quarter (26%) worked in the public sector, health care and education and just a little fewer (24%) in agriculture, manufacturing and construction. The remaining 18% worked in commercial services. Nearly half of the workers in the sample are employed as managers. Sizeable groups of respondents work in services and sales (14%) and as plant an machine operators (14%).

One in four workers are self-employed (27%), two in ten workers are employees with a permanent contract (22%), 33% have a fixed term contract and 18% have no contract at all. Four in ten workers (39%) state that they are entitled, to social security. Some 10% of workers state that they have no agreed working hours, the remaining group has agreed working hours, either in writing or verbally (no 10%, in writing 53%, verbally agreed 37%). One third get their wages transferred to a bank account, two thirds get them cash in hand. Up to 35% of workers are in what can be qualified as very informal jobs, without social security, agreed hours or contracts, whereas 15% are in the very formal jobs. Some 47% of workers are covered by collective agreement, while 81% wish to be covered.

The median net hourly wage of the total sample is 1121 Ugandan Shilling (UGX). Workers in firms with less than ten employees, earn a lot less than employees of bigger firms. The analysis also shows that the more informal a jobs is, the lower the net hourly wages. Those on the lowest end of the informality scale earn only 894 UGX per hour, whereas those in the highest end earn wages far above that (median is 1617 UGX). Employees with permanent contracts have by far the highest earnings (1529 UGX), whereas workers without a labour contract (751 UGX) have the lowest earnings. Median wages increase with every level of education. Payoffs are small for the first levels of education and increase as the level gets higher. Workers without formal education earn on average 546 Shilling, whereas those with university education earn 2383 UGX.

Managers have the highest median wages (1600 UGX), followed by clerical support workers (1042 UGX) and plant and machine operators (925 UGX). The lowest paid workers are agricultural workers (443 UGX), followed by technicians and associate professionals (577 Shilling) and service and sales workers (589 Shilling). Men earn significantly more than women.

The result of the analysis shows that 77% of the sample is paid on or above the poverty line of 403 Shilling per hour (or 1.25 US Dollars per day), whereas 23% is paid below the poverty line. Only 62% of informal workers are paid above the poverty line compared to 97% of the most formal workers. Women are less often paid above the poverty line than men (75% versus 78%). Workers under 30 years are most vulnerable: 71% is paid on or above the poverty line, compared to 87% of workers above 50 years old. Workers in very small firms are least often above the poverty line (67%), compared to 91% of workers in firms employing between 11 and 50 people. Workers without a contract are the single most vulnerable group, only just over half (55%) are paid more than the poverty line. Two third of workers with primary or lower secondary education are paid on or above the poverty line, compared to 97% and 95% of workers who finished college or university education respectively. Nine in ten managers are paid above the poverty line and almost as many clerical support workers (89%). In contract, less than half (49%) of the technicians and associate professionals earn more than the poverty line for one person, and just a little more (58%) service and sales workers do. Workers in trade, transport and hospitality are most at risk of poverty (30% paid below the poverty line). Public sector workers are best of, 92% of them earning a wage above the poverty line.

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