Friday, November 18, 2011

High wages are moving west


Mining industry: $2235 per week
Utilities industries: $1649 per week
Professional & technical services: $1600 per week


Arts & recreation: $1203 per week
Accommodation and food: $980 per week
Retail industry: $979 per week

Average full-time adult total earnings, August 2011

Our earnings landscape is shifting. Ten years ago the average full-time adult male worker in NSW took home more than his counterpart in Western Australia by a margin of $70 per week.

These days Western Australian men outpace NSW men by $335 per week. Western Australia eclipsed the Australian Capital Territory as the highest earning state or territory more than a year ago.

For women the margins between states are little changed, suggesting Western Australia’s earnings growth is being driven by the male-dominated mining and construction industries.

Mining workers are by far Australia’s highest paid according to the Bureau of Statistics figures with full-time men in thee industry taking home an average of $120,100 per year. Full-time women in the industry take home $91,100...

The worst-paying industries are retail sales and accommodation & food services, each paying both men and women an average of around $51,100.

The ABS figures appear to show the male-female wage gap widening to a 25 year high but Melbourne Institute labour specialist Mark Wooden believes the averages may reflect the changes in the composition of the workforce rather than changes in wages themselves.

“It employment in the low-wage jobs in the services sector was growing, and if those jobs were prominently filled by women that could push down average female wages without pushing down any actual wages,” he told the Herald.

“If employment in low-wage jobs in manufacturing was falling, and if those jobs were predominantly filled by men that could push up average male wages without pushing up actual wages,” he said.

The fastest growing average wages over the past year have been in wholesale trade (up 11.9 per cent), health care and social assistance (up 6.9 per cent), arts and recreation (up 5.5 per cent) and construction (up 5.4 per cent), and accommodation & food services (5 per cent).

Wages growth has been the weakest in administrative and support services (down 2.8 per cent), rental hiring & real estate (down 0.1 per cent).

Mining wages, previously increasing strongly, grew 4.8 per cent. Across all industries average full-time wages grew 5.1 per cent, a comfortable margin above the inflation rate of 3.5 per cent.

“These figures won’t alarm the Reserve Bank,” said Commonwealth Securities economist Savanth Sebastian. “They tend tends to overstate growth in wages, as the balance or workers shifts from full-time to part-time and shifts across industry sectors.”

Published in today's SMH and Age

Related Posts

. We're working, but differently

. Get real. Wage growth is more of a wage crawl

. Where wages are growing in Marth