The Reserve Bank of Australia has hiked its interest rate 4 times so far this year, for a combined total of 1.75 percentage points. And it has signalled more increases are ahead, as it joins other central banks around the world in rapidly increasing rates to slow spending power, job-creation, and hence inflation.
The latest inflation figures from the Bureau of Statistics reveal just how much workers have been left behind. Writing in Guardian Australia, labour market and fiscal policy director Greg Jericho notes that while the focus is on the biggest annual increase in inflation since the introduction of the GST, the data also shows that real wages have fallen drastically.
Despite unemployment at nearly 50 years lows, it will be little surprise to workers that wages growth is only at 3 year highs. Over the past decade the relationship between wages growth and unemployment has shifted such that levels of unemployment that would have once seen wages growing at more than 4% are now associated with growth of well below 3%.
Right now, the big numbers of the economy look pretty good. Unemployment in June was just 3.5% – the lowest since 1974. So why has consumer confidence crashed and why are so many Australians worried about a recession?
Reserve Bank of Australia governor Phillip Lowe has invoked memories of the 1970s, warning wage growth must be restrained to contain Australia’s surging inflation. In the 1970s, Lowe said last week, “we got into trouble because wages growth responded mechanically to the higher inflation rate”. Now, with inflation above 5%, and tipped to reach 7% by the
The Fair Work Commission has announced an important increase in the national minimum wage, which will rise by $1.05 per hour (or 5.2%) effective 1 July 2022. This represents a significant shift in the debate over wages in Australia, whichi have been languishing for years — and are now falling in real terms.
As the Fair Work Commission prepares to announce this year’s increase in the national minimum wage, new polling data shows that the vast majority of Australians support lifting wages to keep up with rising inflation. The Australia Institute conducted a special exit poll, surveying a nationally representative sample of 1,424 Australians on the evening of
The latest labour account survey released by the Bureau of Statistics revealed that while job growth remains solid and the job vacancy rate is at record levels, workers real incomes remains at best flat.
The collapse in agreement coverage under Australia’s enterprise bargaining system in Australia in recent years, particularly in the private sector, has focused attention on the need for reforms that will give more workers the effective ability to collectively negotiate better wages and conditions. In the private sector, coverage by a current enterprise agreement has fallen by half since 2013: to below 11% of all workers by March 2021. No wonder wages are lagging so far behind inflation.
The March quarter GDP figures show that while the economy is growing strongly, workers are missing out of their fair share.
Nobel Laureate, former World Bank Chief Economist, and best-selling author Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz will visit Australia in July 2022 to discuss the need to expand the role of governments, unions, and civil society. The tour, hosted by the Australia Institute, will see Professor Stiglitz speak at a wide range of events for the general
Three days before the federal election, new ABS data confirmed that Australian wage growth is still stuck at historically weak rate (up just 2.4% year over year to March 2022). One day later, another ABS release showed another small decline in the unemployment rate, which is now below 4%. Most of the decline was due to people leaving the labour market (rather than new jobs being created). But the data is being cited by the current government as a sign that better wage growth is just around the corner.
The debate over wages, prices, and living standards heated up even further this week, with the release of new ABS statistics showing continuing weakness in wages despite the acceleration of inflation. The latest data from the ABS Wage Price Index (WPI) shows nominal wages grew just 2.4% over the 12 months ending in March. That is less than half as fast as consumer prices grew (5.1%), producing the biggest decline in real wages this century.
The Fair Work Commission recently announced important changes to the SCHADS Award (which sets minimum standards for workers in home care, disability services, community agencies, and other vital services) as part of its award review process. This culminates several years of research and advocacy by unions representing workers in these sectors, aimed at improving job quality and stability in these vital but undervalued positions. The Centre for Future Work provided expert testimony to the Commission as part of its review.
The release of the March Wage Price Index confirms what a horror year it has been for workers. While inflation in the past 12 months rose 5.1%, wages grew just 2.4%. Even worse, in the past year the price of non-discretionary items rose 6.6%, meaning for those on low wages, who spend more of their incomes on essential items, real wages would have fallen even more than the 2.6% average fall.
Every three months the Bureau of Statistics releases the lesser-known cousin of the consumer price index. It’s called the Wage Price Index (WPI) and it records changes in the overall level of wages, in the same way the price index records changes in the overall level of consumer prices.
Almost one in five Australians (and a higher proportion of young workers) acknowledge working with potential COVID symptoms over the course of the pandemic, according to new opinion research released today by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work. The research confirms the public health dangers of Australia’s patchwork system of sick leave and related
The current election campaign has seen the two major parties put forward housing policies, both of which to varying degrees are aimed at the demand side of the equation.
This week the election campaign has turned to discussion about the increase to the minimum wage, with suggestions that an increase either in line with the curent rate of inflation of 5.1% or marginally above it (such as the ACTU’s proposal of a 5.5% increase) would bring about a return to 1970s style wage sprials.
A comprehensive review of Australian wage trends indicates that wage growth is likely to remain stuck at historically weak levels despite the dramatic disruptions experienced by the Australian labour market through the COVID-19 pandemic. The report finds that targeted policies to deliberately lift wages are needed to break free of the low-wage trajectory that has
Today the opposition leader, Anthony Albanese was asked about wages in the following exchange: Journalist: “You said that you don’t want people to go backwards. Does that mean that you would support a wage hike of 5.1% just to keep up with inflation? Anthony Albanese: “Absolutely”. Any other response would be to suggest that real
A new report has found pandemic workforce shortages should be tackled through investment in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) to boost employment, unlock productivity and support life-long development outcomes for children.
For most of the past decade the talk about housing affordability has focussed on house prices. As fiscal policy director, Greg Jericho notes in his Guardian Australia column, falling interest rates since November 2010 have made paying off a mortgage less onerous than it otherwise would have given the soaring house prices.
The March CPI figures showing that inflation rose 5.1% over the past 12 months is not just the highest level since the introduction of the GST it also signals the biggest fall in real wages since then as well.
The next federal government can save universities, make undergraduate education free for all Australians and employ tens of thousands of staff securely by lifting the public spend on higher education to just one per cent of GDP, according to a landmark new report. The Australia Institute’s Centre For Future Work report shows, if the federal
Business groups and conservative media are happy to discuss insecure work as if it is nothing new – stable and part of a healthy economy that provides workers with independence. But this is not the case, with insecure forms of work – casual, gigs, temporary work and short-term contracts – taking up a growing share of jobs in Australia.
The election campaign thus far has been dominated with gotcha questions that unfortunately have missed the vital need to examine the different policies on offer at a time when Australia’s economy is in a state of extreme flux.
Making Early Child Education and Care (ECEC) universal in Australia would pay for itself by unlocking women’s labour supply, boosting GDP and growing government revenues by billions, according to new research from the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work. With cost of living shaping up as a key election issue, policy experts say boosted funding would
The more than a decade long period of the Reserve Bank going without raising interest rates looks set to end. Rising inflation and the unwinding of the pandemic restrictions and border closures means that the emergency cash rate of 0.1% will soon go up. But at the moment the market expects before the end of next year that it will rise to above 3%.
This year’s budget was transparently targeted towards the May election.