Average earnings fall slightly with low paid jobs recovery: Australia

The average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time adults in Australia in November 2020 was $1,712 (seasonally adjusted), down 0.1 per cent from May 2020, according to new Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released today.

Changes in average earnings continued to reflect compositional changes stemming from COVID-19 impacts on jobs and earnings.

Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said: “The fall in average weekly earnings in November follows the large increase we saw in May (3.3 per cent). May was when the labour market impacts were greatest, with a higher share of job losses in lower paid jobs and industries, and those which remained had a higher earnings profile.

“The fall in average earnings in November highlights the extent of recovery in low paid jobs, hours and earnings since May. While the recovery has varied by industry and other factors, there has been enough recovery at the lower end of the distribution to put downward pressure on the average.”

In the five years before COVID, the six-monthly increases in average weekly earnings were all between 0.4 per cent and 1.8 per cent.

“November 2020 is the first time we have seen a fall in average weekly earnings over a six-month period, highlighting how unusually large the increase in May 2020 was, within a period of relatively low wage growth,” Mr Jarvis said.

In annual terms, average weekly earnings were 3.2 per cent higher in November 2020. This was similar to the annual figure in November 2019 (3.3 per cent), highlighting the shift towards a more typical earnings distribution by the end of the year.

In addition to the fall in the headline average weekly earnings measure, falls were seen in the other measures. It was most pronounced for all employees, down 1.9 per cent (after increasing by 3.8 per cent in May).

/ABS Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.