Colombians Hard at Work

The tropical climate does NOT make people lazy! Colombians work more hours than the vast majority of gringos and get paid much, much less for their sweat!

Let’s roll out the factoids…

  • The official work week here is 48 hours. Some work much longer.
  • Saturdays are workdays for most, even white collar workers.
  • The official minimum monthly salary in 2022 is one million pesos, only about $230 US at current rates. If they’re working 48 hours a week, it’s little more than a dollar an hour.
  • The DANE, Colombia’s statistics organization, states that 99% of Colombians earn LESS than 10 million pesos a month, so only 1% of the working age population earns more than roughly $2,325 US a month.
  • 2 million pesos a month is regarded as a good salary here, but it’s hardly enough to support a family in a major city especially with rampant inflation, so single earner households are rare. If you can read Spanish, here’s an article from the Colombian media from this year that gives an idea of professional salaries in Colombia:…/este-es-el-salario-promedio…/

The wealthiest Colombians are usually business owners, as working for someone else almost certainly limits your earning possibilities, but of course there are exceptions. An university degree doesn’t guarantee a high paying career either.

Nevertheless, Colombia has a growing middle and upper class despite the speed bump of the pandemic which sent millions into poverty. The cost of living is also much lower than in countries like the USA: with just $1500 US a month you can live relatively well in most major cities here, whereas life would be a constant struggle in the USA.

Pundits like to point out that employees in Colombia usually get benefits like medical insurance and cesantías (something akin to employment insurance), but we’re dealing with take home pay here. You can’t trade your benefits for food while gainfully employed!

Let’s dismiss one despicable racist trope that runs through online communities and that we know firsthand is totally false: that the education system here is poor in comparison to so-called first world countries. The opposite is true: the schools curriculums here are much more demanding of their students. Foreigners may presume things because their hosts may not speak English to their level, but these presumptions are erroneous. I’m always surprised by the very cogent conversations one can have with taxi and truck drivers here. The average Colombian is no dummy!

Lastly, while Colombians may seem to not care about punctuality in their social engagements, it’s the opposite when it comes to their salaried jobs!