Figures show that the median salary in Finland is 2,900 euros, but many people earn a lot less than that.
Mikko Jakonen of Jyväskylä University says that in-work poverty is common in the care, service and retail sectors, as well as cleaning.
Definitions of poverty vary, but one commonly-used indicator is working for 60 percent of median pay. That corresponds to around 1,200 euros after tax in Finland. Some 60,000 people satisfy this definition of ‘working poor’.
That doesn’t, however, tell the whole story of in-work poverty. Jakonen’s research suggests that there’s another group of some 100,000-400,000 who work in the gig economy or on short term contracts and use social benefits to make up the shortfall. That means they are not counted as ‘working poor’.
“In Finland poverty is relative, so poverty doesn’t necessarily mean people are destitute but it is difficult to make ends meet each month,” says Jakonen. “This could lead to debt, and for instance people eating the cheapest possible food.”
Under-employment is one problem, according to Jakonen, as are insufficient hours. When income is unstable, people struggle to keep the bureaucracy informed so their benefits will make up the shortfall in income.