Private-sector workers’ average earnings in Australia grew by just 0.8% to $1,123.50 in the year to May, far outstripped by huge increases for government and other publicly employed employees, whose average pay jumped by 4% to $1,410.60 over the same period.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) latest Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) survey shows that the average weekly pay was $1,179 as at the end of May this year, leaving it up a paltry 1.6% from a year earlier.
With consumer price inflation running at 1.9% in the year to June 2017, that means that weekly earning for the average Australian worker went backwards over the year.
No wonder consumer confidence is stuck in the mud.
The AWE report estimates the average value of gross wages and salaries paid to employees by an employer, and is calculated by dividing the total earnings of workers by the total number of employees in any given week.
This differentiates it from the Wage Price Index (WPI) which measures changes in hourly rates of pay.
So it’s a rough guide to what the average Australian earns.
For full-time workers — and most people work full-time — the ABS said average weekly earnings rose by a slightly faster 1.8% to $1,543.20 over the same period.
So faster than for all workers, but still less than the inflation rate.
Including overtime payments, total earnings for the average full-time worker rose by 2.1% to $1,605.60.
However, as seen in yesterday’s WPI release for the June quarter, there was a yawning gap between growth in average weekly earnings for private and public-sector workers over the past year.
For private-sector workers, average earnings grew by just 0.8% to $1,123.50, while public-sector average earnings jumped by 4% to $1,410.60.
This means public sector workers’ pay increased nearly five times faster than private-sector workers.
Excluding overtime payments, full-time public sector earnings rose by 2.8% to $1,686 over the year, doubling the increase for private-sector workers which rose by 1.4% to $1,503.90.
By sex, the ABS said that average weekly earnings for females grew at a faster pace than males over the year, although, in absolute terms, their pay levels were still significantly lower.
Average earnings for women rose by 2.3% to $946.800, while for men they increased by 1.6% to $1,417.20.
For full-time workers, female ordinary earnings rose by 2.6% to $1,386.60 from a year earlier. Over the same period, earnings for men working full-time increased by a smaller 1.5% to $1,637.20.
The ABS says that while the AWE data can be used to compare average earnings between males and females at a very broad level, it does not take into account a range of compositional differences such as occupation or hours worked which contribute significantly to the difference seen between male and female earnings.
By location, the ACT retained the title as the state or territory with the highest average weekly earnings level for full-time workers at $1,774.10, beating Western Australia and the Northern Territory for top spot with average earnings of $1,714.70 and $1,616.50 respectively.
Of the other states, average earnings in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia stood at $1,545.80, $1,507.70, $1,496.10 and $1,447.60 respectively.
Tasmania, at $1,352.80, yet again logged the smallest average across the nation.
By industry, full-time employees in the mining sector had the highest average earnings in Australia at $2,551.10. At the other end of the spectrum, full-time workers in the accommodation and food services sector recorded the lowest average of all industries at $1,098.50.