Two faces of Poland

There is no country with a flat rate of wages across its territory. However, in well-developed economies these differences are often marginal and insignificant. But such a division is very visible and felt in Poland. Studies show that in terms of employment and average salaries there are 2 states.

When you take into account the situation is separate provinces, major trends are easily discernible. Wages in central Poland and especially in the capital, Warsaw, are higher by 66% than those in the east. Other well-prospering regions are Lower Silesia and Pomerania. In Mazovia, chances of finding a job are the highest since this region has the biggest number of job offers published, with Lower Silesia, Małopolska, Silesia, Wielkopolska and Pomerania following. Fewest people are wanted in Świętokrzyskie, Podlaskie, Warmia-Masuria, Opole and Lubuskie provinces.
As the map shows, the provinces which belong to the ‘eastern wall’ earn least. Differences between these regions are small. Main reasons for such small earnings and poor statistics are unemployment (with en ever-increasing number of companies closing down or going bankrupt), lack of external investments (since big, often international companies prefer well-developed areas and big cities), and small capacity of existing manufacturing and industrial plants to offer more jobs. Such small income, usually borderline with a minimum wage, forces a lot of people to take up additional part-time jobs to make ends meet.

1-wojewodztwa polski

(click to enlarge)

The situation with cities is not entirely dependent on the province they are in. In the mining areas of Silesia cities like Katowice, Chorzów, Sosnowiec, Gliwice or Rybnik have always offered one of the highest salaries in the country, despite the state’s overall average performance. In the past Katowice were listed even higher than the capital. However, funding and investments were relocated from those cities when the Euro 2012 preparations started and other cities got a chance to develop. In all the municipalities that hosted the games investments were made. Injections of money propelled local economies and enabled industrial development, which obviously influenced the salaries.

2-srednie zarobki w miastach

(click to enlarge)

A very significant factor in average wage differentiation is also location of firms. Headquarters and offices of major companies, especially international, are located in big cities or agglomerations. These companies created an employment structure different to the one in rural areas. The degree of industrialisation is also important. City regions with low engagement in agriculture and high participation in industry or services have relatively higher averages and greater investment attraction. If a city is a province capital, its chances for external capital are even higher. High concentration of skills is another magnet for investors – universities provide educated and skilled graduates who are more likely to be hired.

In terms of branches, not surprisingly nowadays it turns out that in most of provinces highest wages are offered to IT specialists (e.g. in Małopolska an average wage in the IT branch is 5,5 thousand PLN, while the province average is only 3,2 thousand). In the Mazovia region best salaries go to those working in telecommunication with an average of 6,8 thousand.

However, the general process of development is bound to diminish differences between regions. The process of reaching equilibrium can already be observed – the ‘eastern wall’ provinces have a higher rate of income increase than in central Poland.

By Katarzyna Liszka, Martyna Dzido, Aleksandra Pułyk, Patrycja Perzyńska



5 thoughts on “Two faces of Poland

  1. We have similar problem here in my home country Slovakia – Poland’s southern neighbor. You write in your post that there is very high unemployment rate in Poland, so there are a lot of people willing to work. But from what I can see the majority of foreign investments goes only to capital Warsaw. I think the part of solution could be strengthening of infrastructures leading to the regions with high unemployment and low wages. These low wages and good infrastructure could majorly boost attractiveness for foreign investors.

  2. Very interesting post! In my home country Germany there is an unequal distribution of wages, too. In the year 2010 the earnings differences between East and West were increasing even 20 years after the reunification of Germany. The average net income in 2010 increased by 99 Euros to 3,056 Euros in the West, in the East it has stagnated by 2,292 Euros. So the East German Average household had monthly 764 Euros less available, which corresponds 75 percent of the West income. The same differences can be noticed concerning the unemployment rate. In the year 2011 the unemployment rate in East Germany was 11.3 percent – this is scarcely double high like in West Germany. Of course, there are some regional differences in East Germany and large cities like Jena, Potsdam or Dresden have an unemployment rate below 10 percent. All in all, the government must support rural areas and invest in a good infrastructure. Otherwise there will always be huge differences within a country’s border and people in the rural landscape will disappear.

  3. This is remarkable. I want to add that in Germany is also a large gab between the wages of men and women, even when they have the same qualifications. Regarding this top Scandinavia should be a role model.

  4. I am from Slovakia and I have to say that we have the same problem of “two faces” We have rich west with good infrastructure that is attractive for foreign investors and on the other hand poor east with high unemployment rate, bankrupted companies, low salaries… Government of both countries should support building of infrastructure in the regions that might be attractive for foreign investors.

  5. As recent reaserch revealed the gap between Polish A and Polish B is as high as between the Polish and the most developed countries in the European Union. Quite recently the government yesterday approved the National Strategy for Regional Development 2010-2020 with emphasise on supposrt for poor regions across the country – including the maintenance of the development of Polish and Eastern Europe. Second priority – strengthening the role of the 18 largest cities.Hopefully it is going to work and decrese the yawning economic hole between those two parts of country.


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