Average Cuban monthly salary rises to $19 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Average Cuban monthly salary rises to $19

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HAVANA -

The average monthly salary in Cuba rose 17 percent between 2006 and 2011 to the equivalent of $19, the state statistics office said Monday.

That meant the average monthly wage of workers in Cuba, where the Communist-ruled state controls more than 90 percent of the economy, climbed from the equivalent of $16 a month in 2006 to $19 last year, the office said on its website.

Low salaries are a key complaint in the Americas' only one-party Communist regime.

There is a very small salary range from unskilled to highly skilled labor, so a street sweeper might make $17 and a brain surgeon $22 a month.

In the Caribbean nation of 11 million, education and health care are free or nearly free, but the cost of putting food on the table remains a major everyday concern.

Cubans who have access to hard currency -- those who work in tourism or who have relatives overseas -- can spend it to supplement their incomes. But millions have no such access.

President Raul Castro's government has trimmed state payrolls and allowed a few crowd-pleasing changes like allowing Cubans to stay in hotels that once were only for foreigners.

But Castro, 81, has not launched any wholesale overhaul of Cuba's decrepit centrally planned economy, which is kept afloat largely by Venezuelan economic support.

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