Dr. Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work, appeared before the National Youth Commission on 31 October in Sydney to discuss the challenges facing young workers in Australia’s labour market.
In this comprehensive but readable commentary, our Director Jim Stanford challenges five stereotypical claims that are often advanced in debates over the future of work.
The Centre for Future Work invites applications for an economist to join our research team in labour market research and policy analysis. The position may be at a junior or senior level, and the successful candidate may work from our offices in either Sydney or Canberra.
The Fair Work Commission has announced a 3% hike in Australia’s national Minimum Wage, effective July 1, taking it to $19.49 per hour. That increase is lower than the 3.5% increase implemented last year.
As the great novelist Isaac Asimov wrote, “The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.” Business leaders and sympathetic commentators have adopted that advice with gusto, during current public debates over the unprecedented weakness of Australian wages.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission’s decision to press charges against 54 steelworkers for attending a political rally, with potential fines of up to $42,000 per person, is abhorrent on any level. No worker should face this kind of intimidation for participating in peaceful protest.
You would think that after 5 consecutive years of wage forecasts that wildly overestimated actual experience, the government might have learned from its past errors – and published a wage forecast more in line with reality. But not this government. They are still trying to convince Australian workers, who haven’t seen real average wages rise in over 5 years, that better times are just around the corner. And rosy wage forecasts are helpful in justifying their equally optimistic revenue forecasts: since if Australians are earning more money, they will be paying more taxes!
124 labour policy experts have today published an open letter calling for proactive measures to help accelerate the rate of wages growth in Australia’s economy. The legal experts, economists, and other policy analysts agreed that “stronger wages in the future would contribute to a stronger, more balanced and fairer Australian economy,” and they proposed several broad strategies to boost wages.
A unique conjuncture of economic and political factors has created an opportunity for a historic change in the direction of Australia’s workplace and industrial policies. That’s the conclusion of Dr. Jim Stanford, Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work, in a major review article published in Economic and Labour Relations Review, an Australian academic journal.
There has been a lot of discussion about “living wages” in recent years – in Australia, and internationally. And now the idea has become a hot election topic. The ACTU wants the government to boost the federal minimum wage so it’s a true living wage. Opposition leader Bill Shorten has hinted he’s open to the idea. Business leaders predict economic catastrophe if the minimum wage is increased.
Australia’s manufacturing sector has been experiencing an important and welcome rebound during the last two years. The turnaround has been documented and analysed in previous Centre for Future Work research (including studies published in 2017 and 2018 as part of the National Manufacturing Summit, co-sponsored by the Centre).
Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work, was recently featured in a new video produced in collaboration with United Voice and the Flip production company.
Australian wage growth has decelerated in recent years to the slowest sustained pace since the 1930s. Nominal wages have grown very slowly since 2012; average real wages (after adjusting for inflation) have not grown at all. The resulting slowdown in personal incomes has contributed to weak consumer spending, more precarious household finances, and even larger government deficits.
Wednesday 21 November is Australia’s official “Go Home On Time Day,” sponsored by the Centre for Future Work and the Australia Institute. This represents the 10th year of our initiative, to provide light-hearted encouragement to Australian workers to actually leave their jobs when they are supposed to. Instead of working late once again – and allowing your employer to “steal” even more of your time, without even paying for it – why not leave the job promptly. Spend a full evening with your family or friends, visit the gym, see a movie – do anything other than work.
The Centre for Future Work recently published a symposium of research investigating the long-term decline in the share of Australian GDP paid to workers (including wages, salaries, and superannuation contributions). The four articles, published in a special issue of the Journal of Australian Political Economy, documented the erosion of workers’ share of national income, its causes, and consequences.
Trade unionists are gathering this week at the ACTU’s triennial Congress in Brisbane. Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work, participated in a panel on the Future of Work (an apt title!) at the Congress.
Trade unionists from across Australia are gathering in Brisbane this week for the 2018 Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. And the Centre for Future Work will be there!
Less than half of employed Australians now hold a “standard” job: that is, a permanent full-time paid job with leave entitlements. That’s the startling finding of a new report on the growing insecurity of work published by the Centre for Future Work.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions has released a major policy paper outlining an ambitious, multi-faceted program to address the chronic shortage of work, and the steady erosion of job quality, in Australia. The full paper, Jobs You Can Count On, is available on the ACTU’s website. It contains specific proposals to stimulate much stronger job-creation, reduce unemployment and underemployment, improve job quality (including through repairs to Australia’s industrial relations system), and ensure that all communities (including traditionally marginalised populations like indigenous peoples, women, youth, and people with disability) have full access to the decent work opportunities that the plan would generate.
In the wake of the Trump Administration’s success in pushing a major company tax cut through the U.S. Congress, the Australian Treasurer has stepped up his calls for reduced company taxes here. He claims Australia will bypass the growth-inducing benefits of these tax cuts, but Dr. Anis Chowdhury, Associate of the Centre for Future Work, has compiled the economic evidence. The U.S. experience shows no statistical evidence of any “trickle-down” growth dividend from company tax cuts.
The Centre for Future Work invites applications for an economist to join our research team in labour market research and policy analysis, working from our offices in Sydney or Canberra.
Progressives everywhere are grappling with developing policy proposals to improve the quantity and quality of work in our economy, as part of their broader vision for building more successful and inclusive societies. To this end, the Fabians Society in NSW recently published an interesting booklet of policy proposals, to inject into debate within the Labor Party and other fora. One chapter written by Sarah Kaine (Associate Professor at UTS and a member of the Centre for Future Work’s Advisory Committee) and Jim Stanford (Economist and Director of the Centre) deals head-on with the challenges facing work, and what can be done to make it better; it is reprinted below.
Paradoxically, underemployment and number of hours actually worked are both on the rise in Australia.
Commonwealth Treasurer Scott Morrison tabled his 2017-18 budget in Parliament House on May 9, and the Centre for Future Work’s Director Jim Stanford was there in the lock-up to analyse its likely impacts. Here are some of our main impressions and comments:
The Fair Work Commission has ruled that penalty rates for Sunday and public holiday work in the retail and hospitality sectors should be reduced, which would reduce hourly wages on those days by up to $10 per hour. Business lobbyists predict this will spark a hiring surge in stores and restaurants, as employers take advantage of lower wages to extend hours and ramp up operations. The economic logic of this claim is highly suspect, however – especially in light of the fundamental factors which truly limit employment in these sectors (namely, the sluggish growth of personal incomes). 78 Australian economists have signed a public letter debunking these job-creation claims, arguing that the FWC’s decision will lead to more inequality, not more employment.
The Centre for Future Work is proud to host this year’s Go Home on Time Day. It’s the eighth annual edition of this event, which draws light-hearted attention to a serious issue: the economic, social, and health consequences of excess working hours.
You know that the tides of public opinion are starting to turn, when even the head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Mr. Rod Sims, will come out in public and criticize the usual claims that privatization is good for efficiency and national well-being.
We have prepared six shareable infographics based on material in our research paper, “Jobs and Growth… and a Few Hard Numbers,” which compared Australia’s economic performance under the respective postwar Prime Ministers.
Voters typically rank economic issues among their top concerns. And campaigning politicians regularly make bold (but vague) pronouncements regarding their competence and credibility as “economic managers.” In popular discourse, economic “competence” is commonly equated with being “business-friendly.”