The rivers of cash from Australia's resources boom didn't help the poor

Cottesloe Beach sculpture. Paul Kane/Getty Images

The gap between the rich and poor in Western Australia hasn’t changed much despite the resources boom.

Income inequality has fallen slightly but there continues to be significant inequality in the distribution of household wealth, according to analysis by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre.

The Back to the Future report examines recent changes in the state’s economic trends following the tailing off of the resources boom.

The size of the state’s mining workforce has shrunk to around 84,000 from nearly 106,000 in mid 2013. The gross state product growth dropped to 3.5% in 2014-15 from 9% in 2011-12.

The state’s shrinking growth:

And the latest research shows little change in the gap between rich and poor.

The wealthiest 20% of WA households hold almost two-thirds of the state’s total net household wealth. But the poorest 20% hold just 0.8%.

There’s also a significant gender gap. A quarter of single women in WA don’t have any superannuation assets compared to only one in 10 men.

The end of the mining boom has meant a slowdown for the state with fewer jobs but less expensive food and drink.

For the first time since 2006, WA’s unemployment rate is greater than the nation’s. Full-time employment growth in the state dipped below the national average to -5% in 2016.

And the under-employment ratio has risen more rapidly than in other states and territories, increasing to 10% in 2016 from 6% in 2011.

Labour demand has also been falling with the WA Internet Vacancy Index recently now below the national rate.

“More West Australians will need to hold multiple jobs at any point in time to make up preferred work hours and multiple job turnovers and career shifts before retirement would not be unusual,” says Professor Alan Duncan, director of the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre.

The end of the resources boom has also meant more people heading east.

WA had the steepest decline in net interstate migration in decades. Migration numbers dipped from a net inflow of 8,898 in 2012 to a net outflow of 3,005 in 2015.

The good news is that WA isn’t as expensive as it once was. Day-to-day necessities such as food, housing, transport and health are cheaper.

The average inflation rate in Perth has dropped to under 2% from 3% during the resource boom.

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