Average wages increasing
According to Statistics Estonia, in the second quarter of 2015, the average monthly gross salary in Estonia was 1,082 euros. Compared to the first quarter, the incrase was 7.1 percent, and compared to the second quarter of 2014, 5.8 percent.
Irregular bonuses and premiums also increased by 2.9 percent per employee and influenced the growth of average monthly gross wages and salaries by 0.1 percentage points.
More importantly, real wages, which take into account the change in the consumer price index, increased even faster than the average monthly gross wages and salaries due to the continued decrease in consumer prices.
The average monthly income rose most in real estate, agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors, while the only activity with a decrease was construction.
The average gross wage was 1,054 euros in April, 1,058 euros in May and 1,135 euros in June. The average net income was 871 euros in the second quarter of 2015. Due to the decline in the income tax rate from 21 to 20 percent, the unemployment insurance tax rate from 1 to 0.8 percent and the increase of minimum wages from 355 euros to 390 euros starting from 1 January 2015, this was 7.3 percent more than at the same time last year.
The average hourly gross wages were 6.61 euros - 6.4 percent more than in 2014. The largest increase occurred in arts, entertainment and recreation.
The average monthly labour costs per employee was 1,459 euros and the hourly labour costs was 9.87 euros - a 5.8 and 6.2 percent increase year on year respectively.
Economic growth 1.9%
According to the latest estimates by Statistics Estonia, the gross domestic product (GDP) of Estonia increased 1.9 percent in the 2nd quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
Greatest growth contributors were real estate business, manufacturing, forestry and fishing industries.
External trade suffered and had a negative impact on the Estonian economy, as the export of food and beverages decreased substantially.
Government planning 'Global Estonia' network
Estonian government has initiated a development of what it calls a Global Estonia network, to boost exports and bring more investement to Estonia.
The exact aim and execution of the concept is still unclear, but the government said that the objective is “the wider exchange of information and communication of state messages.“
The network will be comprised of Estonian foreign representations, honorary consuls, business delegates, fellow-countryman living and working abroad, friends of Estonia and their organizations.
The government aims to develop and widen the connection of existing channels and improve their cooperation via Global Estonia, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign representations, Enterprise Estonia, the Estonian Institute, Estonian World portal and others already have functioning networks.
Estonians shunning cash
More Estonians than ever are using debit cards to make payments, instead of cash.
Almost 700,000 card payments are conducted in Estonia every day, over three times more than 10 years ago, the country's central bank said on Friday.
This forms 75 percent of all internal payments in the country, compared to 65 percent in 2005.
The number of cash withdrawals has also declined by roughly 35 percent.
Estonia's success as an e-state started largely due to introduction of online banking in the 1990s. Today, practically all banking transactions are done electronically.
Eesti Energia to sell stake in Jordan oil shale project
The state-owned energy company Eesti Energia (EE) announced that it is selling a substantial part of its stake in the Jordan power plant project.
Eesti Energia acquired majority stake in Jordan Oil Shale Energy Co (JOSE) in 2006 with an aim to build a shale oil plant in the Kingdom of Jordan.
Jordan is one of the few countries in the Middle East without oil, but at 80 billion tonnes, it has some of the largest oil shale deposits in the world, many times more than Estonia.
Estonia, on the other hand, has one of the most efficient oil shale industries, owning the two largest oil shale fired power stations in the world. The country is also the second largest oil shale producer in the world after China. About 85 percent of Estonia's total electricity production comes from the oil shale industry.
EE is developing a 70 square kilometer area in Attarat Um Ghudran, 110 kilometers from the Jordan capital Amman and known to have the largest deposits. The concession area contains an estimated 3.5 billion tonnes of oil shale and the tied contract with the Jordanian government is signed for 30 years.
EE has previously said that the reason for sale is due to limited funds, which restrain the firm to invest enough in foreign projects. Instead, the company is re-focusing on the domestic development and making the Estonian oil shale industry more environmentally friendly.
Eesti Energia's partners in Jordan are YTL Power International Berhad and Near East Investment, which own 30 and 5 percent respectively in the joint company.