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RBA sees professionals quit for higher pay

·2-min read

More Australians are quitting their jobs for better-paid ones, but the Reserve Bank says the trend is different to "the great resignation" unfolding in the US.

A greater number of workers have made career moves they put on hold earlier in the pandemic, helping wages lift in some parts of the economy.

Reserve Bank board members said workers were encouraged by the end of coronavirus lockdowns, the minutes of the central bank's December 7 policy meeting show.

Professionals in the private sector have been most active in pushing employers to pay more.

They were the only workers whose wages rose more than three per cent in the September quarter.

The Reserve Bank board could see the consequences if momentum continued in other industries.

"The higher rates of voluntary job turnover in some sectors, especially in a tight labour market, could in time lead employers to offer higher wages to retain their workers," the minutes said.

US employers have for months reported a worker shortage dubbed "the great resignation".

A lack of immigration during the pandemic is helping workers negotiate higher pay with employers, who have fewer job candidates.

US unemployment for November dropped to its lowest level (4.2 per cent) since February 2020, making it harder for employers to attract workers.

However Reserve Bank officials did not liken the Australian experience to the US.

Job resignation rates in the US were at historically high levels, they said.

Unlike Australia, the number of people in jobs there was considerably below pre-pandemic levels.

The Reserve Bank discussions are notable as wages growth is a measure used to help guide rate increases.

The board want wages to improve so that inflation is consistently between two and three per cent. This would trigger a rate rise.

The emergence of the coronavirus Omicron variant was a concern but board members did not expect it would derail Australia's economic recovery.

The RBA at its December 7 meeting left the cash rate unchanged at a record low 0.1 per cent.

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