Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mexico's Purchasing Power

According to a study released February, 2012, by the UNAM, Mexico’s largest and most prestigious university, a common laborer has to work 13.38 hours to earn money equivalent to the canasta básica, or minimum nutritional and caloric food basket.  This hourly figure is up from 9 hours of work required in 2000.  That means the average, low-paid worker must labor 68 hours a week to supply the minimum for his family.  For the most basic of foods: rice, sugar, beans, coffee, milk, cooking oil.  Never mind rent, clothing and transportation expenses.

The report goes on to say that from 2000 to 2011, Mexicans lost 24.42 percent of their purchasing power.   52% of the working population earns from 1-3 minimum wages a day.  The minimum wage varies slightly in different regions of the country, but generally hovers around 740 pesos a month.   That’s about $58 U.S. a month.  If you are fortunate enough to earn three times the minimum wage, your monthly earnings total $174.  Most factory workers in the Mexico City metro area, including some close friends in the church, are making 4-5 times the minimum wage.  Even so, they are fortunate to earn $500 a month.  A gallon of milk in Mexico costs 44 pesos, or $3.75. 

Of course, there is a huge disparity of wealth in Mexico.  The world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, is Mexican, and affluence seems to be the norm instead of the exception in many of the urban centers in this country.  The gap between the haves and have nots is abysmal here, and not likely to improve anytime soon.  Machiavelli’s philosophy might not be understood everywhere, but it has been elevated to an art form here.  The rich and powerful will always be rich and powerful.  Only fools give away privileges.  Only the weak are merciful.  

(to be continued...)

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