Here's what the average Australian earns in a week

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  • Average Australian full-time ordinary earnings grew by 2.4% in the year to November.
  • Including all workers and payments, average weekly earnings stood at $1,225.
  • Men still get paid more than women on average, although earning for women grew faster over the year.
  • Public sector average earnings are still higher and growing faster than those in the private sector.
  • Average earnings remain highest in the ACT. Tasmania is still the lowest across the country.

We now know what the average full-time worker in Australia earns in week, courtesy of new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

It was $1,604.90 in November, up 2.4% from a year earlier.

ABS

“This latest data points to ongoing low growth in average earnings with the annual increase in line with the Wage Price Index,” said Bruce Hockman, Chief Economist at the ABS.

“The growth of 1.2% for the last six months is the same as it was at May 2018.”

By sector, average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time workers in the private sector increased 2.3% from a year earlier, slower than the 2.6% level seen for public sector employees.

In dollar terms, average earnings for public sector workers, at $1,766.20, were also higher than the $1,563.50 level for those employed in the private sector.

ABS

That result mirrored trends seen in Australia’s Wage Price Index (WPI) — a measure that tracks movements in hourly pay rates excluding bonuses — in the 12 months to December.

According to the ABS, private sector hourly pay rates grew by 2.29%, below the 2.53% lift in public sector pay rates over the same period.

In contrast to the WPI, the average weekly earnings report measures before-tax pay for those who earned income over a specific reference week. That means it not only captures hourly pay rates but also the amount of hours worked.

It’s simply calculated by dividing the amount of before-tax income earned by the number of workers.

That means it can be influenced by compositional changes in the workforce such as movements of workers between different industries, the types of jobs that have been created as well as differing pay rates in various industries.

“Percentage movements in average weekly earnings can be affected by changes in both the level of earnings per employee and in the composition of the labour force,” the ABS said.

“Factors which can contribute to compositional change include variations in the proportion of full-time, part-time, casual and junior employees, variations in the occupational distribution within and across industries and variations in the distribution of employment between industries.”

Including all payments to workers, average full-time worker earnings stood at $1,666.20 in November, up 2.2% from a year earlier in trend terms.

For all employees, average earnings grew by a faster 2.8% over the year to $1,225.

These tables and charts from the ABS show average worker earnings by gender, location, sector and industry.

In terms of gender, average full-time ordinary earnings for men remained higher than for women in November, standing at $1,695.60 and $1,455.80 respectively.

However, over the year, earnings for women grew by 3.2%, significantly faster than the 2% level for men.

ABS

The ABS says it is important to note that while Average Weekly Earnings data can be used to compare, at the very broad level, average earnings between males and females, such comparisons do not take into account a range of compositional differences.

“For example, differences in occupation or hours worked which contribute significantly to the differences observed between male and female earnings,” it said.

Across Australia’s states and territories, average full-time ordinary earnings were the highest in the ACT and Western Australia at $1,813.30, and $1,757.10 respectively in original terms.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tasmania’s average ordinary full-time earnings stood at $1,399.50, the lowest level in the country.

ABS

Helping to explain why earnings in Western Australia are higher than the national average, average full-time ordinary earnings for mining workers remained the highest level of any industry at $2,611.70 per week, more than double the $1,161 level for accommodation and food services workers which also remained the lowest paying industry in Australia.

ABS

While average weekly earnings and the WPI both grew faster than consumer price inflation over the past year, both measures remain well below the levels seen before the global financial crisis, driven by factors such as large proportion of underutilised workers, weak global inflationary pressures, technological change, globalisation and reduced bargaining powers for workers, among others.

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