Australian companies are paying up to attract new workers

Christopher Polk/Getty Images
  • Official wage and salary measures in Australia all remain stuck at around 2% per annum, well below the levels seen in prior years.
  • New data from jobs specialists Adzuna suggests average advertised salaries for new openings are growing substantially faster.
  • The discrepancy may indicate a degree of complacency from workers about wage trends in their industry.

No matter which measure you use, Australian wage growth is weak.

All currently sit at or just above 2%, well below the levels seen before the global financial crisis.

Few expect that trend to change anytime soon given still elevated levels of labour market slack and weak productivity growth, two factors that have undoubtedly contributed to the miserly pay increase seen in recent years.

However, if new data from jobs specialists Adzuna is anything to go by, there’s hope on the horizon for workers.

Average advertised salaries for job vacancies placed on its platform rose to $94,180 May, up a substantial 8% on a year earlier.

As seen in the chart below supplied by Adzuna, while movements in average annual salary levels tend to jump around month-to-month, the trend over the past year has been undoubtedly higher.

Those trends are also evident from a geographic and industry perspective with strong annual growth in average salary levels seen over the past year.

Here’s what its data shows by state and territory.

And for average salary levels by sector.

Raife Watson, Adzuna CEO, said the only industries to record a year-on-year decline in average salary levels were hospitality (-7%), consultancy (-3%) and legal (-1%), while those in the accounting and finance industry were flat.

While undoubtedly some large employers, average salary levels for most sectors are increasing significantly faster than official wage and salary measures at present.

Watson says the discrepancy between the Adzuna data and other pay measures suggests a degree of complacency among workers.

“I implore all workers to do their homework,” he says.

“If you have worked in a job for a few years now, you might have the blinkers on about where salaries are currently at in your industry. There is a chance you are grossly underpaid.

“Jump online, speak to colleagues, do your research, then call that meeting and ask for more money.”

And if that doesn’t result in a larger pay increase from your existing employer, Watson says it may be time to look elsewhere.

“Workers are in a unique position. We have experienced exceptional jobs growth in Australia over the past year,” he says.

“If you’re being underpaid and the company you are working for won’t come to the table in pay negotiations, it might be time to start looking for a new job.”

You may have to look out in order for your pay rate to go up, in other words.

Not a bad piece of advice, particularly for those industries where average salary levels are picking up.

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