Originally published in The Guardian on November 16, 2023

The wage rises for low-paid workers on awards and those working in aged care helped drive the strong wage growth.

The latest wage growth figures showed that workers’ wages for the past six months have grown faster than inflation. As Labour Market Policy Director, Greg Jericho writes in his Guardian Australia column, this should be celebrated. We need to shed our fear of wage rises. For too long any sign of increasing wage growth has been viewed as something to be stomped on while ever-increasing corporate profits have been cheered.

Since the start of the pandemic, workers’ purchasing power has crashed, and the only way to recover the lost real wages is through wages increasing faster than inflation.

The 1.4% growth of private-sector wages in the September quarter was driven largely off the back of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to increase Award wages by 5.75% and the decision to give aged-care workers a 15% pay rise.

As a result around 40% of those who gained a pay rise in the September quarter received one greater than 4%.

One other pleasing sign has been the relaxation of public sector wage caps has allowed those workers around the country to get a fairer pay rise, but their increases remain well below that of the private-sector.

The profit-led inflation since 2021 hurt workers, and it now is only fair that they receive some recompense. After a decade of ever falling wage growth and a pandemic and recover that smashed real wages, it is very good news that workers are finally getting their fair reward.

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