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ABS jobs data: Aussie workers pays not keeping up with inflation

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Millions of Australians earned just $50 a week more in the year ending August 2022 compared to the previous 12 months.

While inflation is currently at 7.3 per cent, the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal half of all employees in August earned at least $1250 a week – a rise of 4.2 per cent, or $50 – compared to the year prior.

Meanwhile, the job vacancy rate is almost on par with the unemployment rate, as the labour market tightens.

The latest ABS data also shows the number of employees earning less than $1000 a week in their main job fell from 4.5 million to four million between August 2019 and August 2022.

Nearly nine per cent of those earning less than $1000 a week had a second job, while only 4.5 per cent of those earning more than $1000 a week had secondary employment.

Women on average received a 4.5 per cent increase – up $62 to $1442 per week – while men’s median full time earnings increased by $60 to $1600.

In the casual workforce, there are 2.7 million people working without leave entitlements, which head of Labour Statistics at ABS, Bjorn Jarvis says is back above pre-pandemic levels.

“In August 2022, the number of people working as casuals in their main job was around 1.5 per cent higher than February 2020. By comparison, the number of employees with paid leave entitlements had risen by 4.9 per cent,” Mr Jarvis said.

“Prior to the Covid period, casuals accounted for around 25 per cent of all employees and this fell to around 21 per cent in May 2020. In August 2022, the share of employees in casual work had risen to 23.5 per cent. This continues to show the slower recovery in some of the hardest hit workforces during the pandemic.”

In general, 24 per cent of Australian employees say their pay varies between pay periods, and 21 per cent were not guaranteed a minimum number of hours each week.

The latest tranche of data released by the ABS has also revealed trade union membership fell by 76,000 to just 1.4 million employees between August 2020 and August 2022.

The membership rate is 12.5 per cent of all employees, compared to 14.3 per cent in 2020 and 19.4 per cent 10 years ago.

Elsewhere, job vacancies in the September quarter were at a record high, as the unemployment rate remained low.

Around one in every 30 jobs (3.2 per cent) was vacant in the last quarter.

“Just as the employment rate has been falling during a tight labour market, the proportion of vacant jobs has been increasing. In the September quarter it was 3.2 per cent, almost in line with the unemployment rate (3.5 per cent), having been 1.6 per cent just before the pandemic.”

Quarterly growth in jobs and hours worked slowed, with filled jobs growing by just 0.2 per cent.

The largest number of vacant jobs was in the mining sector (5.2 per cent), up from 3.5 per cent in March 2020.

There has also been a sharp increase in the number of vacant jobs in hospitality, with 5.1 per cent of jobs vacant, up from 1.2 per cent in March 2020.

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