17th May 2017

Wages in the private sector are growing at their lowest rate on record - 1.8 per cent per year, according to Australian Bureau Of Statistics figures released in May. There has been a significant decline in wage growth in Australia since 2011.

The Reserve Bank reports there have been fewer large pay rises provided to employees in recent years as a result of the decline in the terms of trade - that is, the value of Australian exports has declined relative to imports – as noted in an RBA bulletin earlier this year.

Just prior to the Global Financial Crisis in 2009, two out of five workers were receiving wage rises of more than 4 per cent per year. It’s now less than one in 10 workers. Yet the RBA warns there may be other, more structural factors at play that are not fully understood.

New data from the Australian Tax Office also shows how uneven wage growth has been across the country over this period. This data is visualised on the map below, revealing areas where the median earner in a region is doing better or worse than those in other parts of Australia.

How much have earnings grown in your area?

Australia 2010-11 2014-15 % Change
Median Earnings $40,770 $46,854 14.9%
Mean Earnings $52,643 $61,036 15.9%
Growth in median income by region, placed in ascending order and separated into five equally sized groups
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Median and Mean

The mean is the sum of all the numbers in the set divided by the amount of numbers in the set. The median is the middle point of a number set, in which half the numbers are above the median and half are below. When looking at personal income both values are interesting as they can vary significantly, especially in areas with very wealthy people as high incomes inflate the mean.

Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2)

The areas shown are ‘Statistical Area Level 2’ (SA2) standard areas as used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. SA2 is a general purpose, medium-sized area, which is used to represent communities that interact socially and economically.