The humble tradie has quietly made the most of the mining boom in Western Australia, amassing wealth at twice the rate of colleagues in the Eastern States.
Those with a trade certificate have a larger and increasing presence in the top 20 per cent of high income earning families.
Almost one in five (18%) of high income households in WA are headed by those in trade jobs, compared with only one in ten (9%) in the rest of Australia.
“This reflects the commonly held belief that tradies are among those who have benefited from the boom,” says Professor Alan Duncan, Director of the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre.
This sudden change in society is one aspect of the mining boom since 2003 uncovered in a new study, Sharing the Boom: the distribution of income and wealth in WA.
Generally, the rich and the middle class in Western Australia have been the big winners from the boom.
WA households are among the wealthiest in the country and Perth ranks third across the nation for mean household net worth, averaging more than $800,000 per household.
Household net wealth in WA has increased by more than 70% in real terms since 2003, adding at least $268 billion to the State’s total wealth stock.
The wealthiest 20% of households in WA own at least 62% of the total household net wealth assets, with the top 40% holding 83%.
The poor, however, are losing ground.
The richest 10% had around 3.8 times the income of the poorest 10% of households in 2003-04.
This climbed to 4.8 times in 2009-10 before falling slightly to 4.5 in 2011-12.
The situation hasn’t been helped by the fact that the cost of living has been running consistently ahead of the rest of Australia.
Profession Duncan says: “This report looks at inequality from a relative standpoint. There have been real gains among the lowest income households, but the report shows they haven’t been able to share in the benefits of the boom to the same degree as higher earners, financially at least.”
This chart shows how income in WA took off from the rest of Australia:
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