Originally published in The Guardian on July 28, 2022

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.

Given prices grew 6.1%, but wages are expected only to achieve around 2.7% growth in the 12 months to June, it remains abundantly clear that inflation is not being driven by labour costs. Indeed given real wages have likely fallen around 3.4% in the past year, wages are currently extremely deflationary.

Real wages have now fallen for 8 consecutive quarters sending the purchasing power of employees back to 2012 levels.

While the economy has rebounded and profits have risen strongly with that of prices, the “recovery” from the pandemic has very much been on the backs of workers who have effectively lost a decade’s worth of growth in real wages.

Even worse, given the greatest price rises have occurred for essential commodities, it is clear low to median income workers are hurting much more than those who devote less of their spending on essentials than does the average household.

All this is occurring with unemployment at near 50-year lows. It is now abundantly clear that the labour market systematically disempowers employees and needs to be reformed.

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