Wages rose just 0.7 per cent in the March quarter – falling well behind the rising cost of living.
New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed the rate of annual wage growth was 2.4 per cent, up from 2.3 per cent last quarter and the highest annual rate recorded since December 2018.
“The annual rate of wage growth has risen for each of the last five quarters, from a low point of 1.4 per cent in December quarter 2020,” ABS head of price statistics Michelle Marquardt said.
Wage rises across the private sector were the main driver of growth over the quarter, increasing 0.7 per cent for the March quarter and 2.4 per cent, annually.
Regular annual wage and salary reviews drove wage growth for the sector, with a small number of larger increases paid to retain and attract in-demand skilled workers.
Public sector wages grew 0.6 per cent for the March quarter and 2.2 per cent, annually.
“Wage growth is influenced by both the size of changes in hourly wage rates and the proportion of jobs recording a change.” Marquardt said.
“In March quarter 2022, the average size of private-sector hourly wage rises increased to 3.4 per cent, the highest quarter increase since June 2013.”
Industries where wages are rising the most
Rental, hiring and real estate services industries have seen the biggest annual change in wages – up 3.1 per cent.
This was followed by manufacturing, information media and telecommunications, and professional, scientific and technical services, which all saw a 2.7 per cent increase annually.
Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory had the strongest annual growth of 2.8 per cent. This was the highest annual rate of growth for the Australian Capital Territory since the June quarter of 2013.
Cost of living bites
The consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.1 per cent in the March 2022 quarter and 5.1 per cent annually, according to the latest data from the ABS.
The most significant contributors to the rise in the March quarter CPI were new property prices (+5.7 per cent), fuel (+11 per cent) and tertiary education (+6.3 per cent).
“Continued shortages of building supplies and labour, heightened freight costs and ongoing strong demand contributed to price rises for newly built dwellings,” Marquardt said when announcing the data last month.
“The CPI’s automotive fuel series reached a record level for the third consecutive quarter, with fuel price rises seen across all three months of the March quarter.”
And, the pressure has been building on Aussies, with food charities saying they have seen a massive uptick in those seeking help.
“The line of customers goes right round the building before we open,” the store’s manager, Eliza van der Sman, said.
“We’ve gone from serving 1,400 a week to 1,700. Many are completely new to needing food relief and are struggling to make ends meet.”