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Aussie wages drop ‘almost across the board'

Aussie workers are now earning $35.43 per hour on average.

Australian money notes. People walking in Sydney NSW.
Aussies working in small and medium-sized businesses have seen their wages drop. (Source: Getty)

Aussies working in small and medium businesses (SMEs) saw their wages drop last month, with the decline felt across all states and territories.

Employment Hero’s analysis of more than 140,000 SMEs and 1.4 million employees found hourly wages fell 1.5 per cent in February to reach $35.43 per hour on average.

Hiring among SMEs also declined month on month across most key industries, with employee growth dropping 0.1 per cent over the month.

Wages and employee growth are still up year on year by 7.9 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively, but this is the first concurrent monthly drop since Employment Hero started its analysis in July 2022.

Employment Hero co-founder and CEO Ben Thompson said findings were in line with NAB’s business confidence index and could indicate the start of a downward shift, but this was still premature.

“SMEs across various industries saw a decline in employment growth and median hourly wages, with larger enterprises experiencing the biggest decrease. While all industries saw growth year on year, median hourly wages dropped almost across the board,” Thompson said.

“The decline in wages could be due to a decrease in consumer demand, resulting in fewer work hours and reduced overtime and penalty rates.”

Industries with the biggest pay growth

While wages saw a dip in February, they are still up year on year. Here’s a look at how wages have grown annually:

  • Science, information and communication technology - 7.8 per cent increase to $57.02/hour

  • Health care and community services - 7.5 per cent increase to $40.30/hour

  • Construction and trade services - 7.2 per cent increase to $37.52/hour

  • Retail, hospitality and tourism - 6.8 per cent increase to $30.98/hour

  • Manufacturing, transport and logistics - 6.1 per cent increase to $35.43/hour

These figures take into account penalty rates, bonuses and allowances.

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