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There's a boom under way in aged care jobs but all the wages are being sucked up by managers

Picture: BBC

Australia created more than 300,000 jobs in 2015. That was a much better performance than most established leading indicators of employment suggested the economy would create last year.

Some of that strength appears to be as a result of sample rotation issues at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. But Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens suggested last week some of that growth in the jobs market is as a result of low wages is facilitating more employment opportunities and job openings.

One thing we do know for sure is that a large number of the jobs created last year were in the lower paid but labour intensive health sector. Last week the ANZ’s economics team highlighted in a note to clients yesterday, the Australian employment market is being driven by a “health jobs juggernaut.”

The latest Job Market Report from online employment search engine Adzuna says that trend is continuing and there is growing demand for workers in the health sector, especially when it comes to aged care.

Adzuna found that:

  • The number of aged care job vacancies has more than doubled Australia-wide year on year.
  • The number of searches for aged care jobs has increased by 150% year on year.
  • Despite this, there is still four times the number of aged care jobs than there are aged care job seekers.

But Adzuna’s report also highlighted an important point of tension between the growth in available jobs and the desires of the potential workforce.

“Salary is a focal point for aged care workers with many unsatisfied with their pay rate,” the report said.

That’s a potential problem because our two most populous, and arguably most expensive, states – New South Wales and Victoria – “account for almost half of the aged care jobs nationwide,” the report said.

The average salary across aged care workers in Australia of $83,326 “incorporates all aged care jobs including trainees, clerical jobs, personal care attendants, registered nurses, clinical managers, regional/operations managers etc.”

However, Adzuna says “this trend is being heavily skewed by the number of managerial roles offering a salary of between 80k and 220k.”

Australia’s population is aging and demand for aged care workers will continue to grow. But Adzuna’s data shows more than 50% of jobs pay less than $60,000 per annum.

Raife Watson, Adzuna’s CEO, said his company’s research “shows that unless you’re in a managerial position, the average salary will remain below the national average with very little growth. Even though our data shows an increase in aged care salaries overall, it is the increasing number of managerial roles paying well over 100k that is causing that seemingly positive trend”.

Glenn Stevens might be right. Low wages may provide plenty of job openings. The big question is, how many more Australian workers want to accept below average wages for these jobs?

*Disclosure: Adzuna is owned by Fairfax Media, which also owns Allure, Business Insider Australia’s publishing company

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