Australian Economy

Wages growth edges up, but still a long way short of the rising cost of living

Australian workers saw their base wages rise an average of 0.7 per cent over the March quarter and 2.4 per cent over the past year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The annual pay rise trails a 5.1 per cent jump in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, over the same period.

Jobs website Indeed’s Asia-Pacific economist Callam Pickering said this means Australian workers effectively took a big pay cut.

“After accounting for inflation, Australian wages have collapsed over the past year,” Mr Pickering observed.

“We haven’t seen real wage growth this weak since the introduction of the GST.

Staff in ‘short supply’

Scott Bowerman is not surprised that wages are not picking up more quickly.

Scott Bowerman sits in a chair in front of a kitchen, looking at the camera.
Scott Bowerman runs a labour-hire company supplying hospitality workers around Wodonga in Victoria.(ABC News: Allison Jess)

He worked as chef for 20 years but, after the pandemic hit, he started a labour-hire business, Chef 4 Hire, in the Victorian regional town of Wodonga.

It was hit hard by staff shortages during pandemic lockdowns.

However, unlike many employers in the hospitality industry, Mr Bowerman said he was no longer having trouble finding workers.

“I’ve put on 20 staff, with another three over this week, so it’s really busy,” he told The Business.

While the cost of living has jumped and many employers complain of staff shortages, Mr Bowerman said most workers in the hospitality industry still were not paid well.

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