Wage expectations remain low

Emma Duffy By on March 26, 2019
young girl working in a restaurant

More Australians don’t believe their wages will rise this year than those who do, according to a poll by EY Sweeney.

The poll of more than 1,000 people found 38% of Australians don’t believe their wages will rise over the next 12 months.

Of those surveyed, 14% strongly disagreed their incomes would rise this year.

But only 38% of people reported being worried about losing their jobs, down from 43% at the same time last year.

The results reflect the current state of the labour market, with the unemployment rate dropping to 4.9% last week – an eight-year low.

But as the cost of living rises, we’re still yet to see any real wage growth, which is still lagging at 2.3%.

EY Sweeney Chief Economist, Jo Masters told the AFR the results paint a picture of market sentiment.

“There is a sense coming through that if many people are feeling more pressure on their pay packet through the cost of living and don’t feel like they are going to see their income increase, then their pessimism comes to the fore,” Ms Masters said.

It comes as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced plans to boost the minimum wage to a ‘living wage’ if he were to win the next federal election.

Essentially just a more generous minimum wage, the ‘living wage’ would benefit low paid workers on junior, apprentice, and disability pay rates.

But NAB’s Kieran Davies said an increase to the minimum wage wouldn’t have a major impact on earnings “unless the minimum wage was quickly redesigned as a living wage aimed at lifting low-paid workers out of poverty”.

“Our view is that a larger-than-usual increase in the minimum wage is unlikely to have a major effect on average earnings. This is because the minimum wage applies to only a small share of the work force,” Mr Davies said.

For feedback or queries, email emma.duffy@savings.com.au

Photo by Irina on Unsplash

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Emma Duffy
Emma Duffy joined Savings.com.au as a Finance Journalist in 2019 after spending a year as the editor of The Real Estate Conversation. She's most passionate about improving the financial literacy of millennials by writing about complex financial topics in a way that's easy for the average Joe (or Jill) to understand.

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