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Wages grew just 0.4%. Why isn't it rising?

People cross a road in the Sydney CBD at rush hour. A man removes money from a wallet.
New ABS data reveals wages grew just 0.4 per cent in the June quarter (Source: Getty)

Wages rose just 0.4 per cent in the June quarter, a figure much lower than experts had anticipated, according to official figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

“The June quarter saw the rate of growth in hourly earnings ease to 0.4 per cent, following two quarters of 0.6 per cent wage growth,” said ABS head of prices statistics Michelle Marquardt.

The meagre quarterly growth comes at “one of the lowest rates recorded for the series,” she added.

“Apart from a few isolated examples of skills shortages placing pressure on employers to meet expected market rates, the private sector wage growth recorded over the quarter (0.5 per cent) was generally subdued.”

This means that despite a few industries struggling to fill roles, most industries remain stubborn in not paying their employees more.

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Are lockdowns to blame?

Yes and no. With many businesses struggling, it’s not a surprise that bosses wouldn’t be able to boost employee wages – but some sectors are still profiting and still not boosting pay packets.

Earlier this year Reserve Bank (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe said immigration has played a role in stagnated employment and wages as bosses were able to get cheaper workers from overseas instead of paying employees more to attract better talent.

Lowe said while Australia’s high levels of migration had helped to boost the economy, in some cases it diluted the incentive for businesses to train local workers.

With international, and at times state and territory, borders closed, Lowe had hoped this would encourage businesses to increase pay. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to have happened.

Incentives over pay

A recent report found that the modern workplace has changed, and what was once considered a workplace perk is now standard practice at many Aussie companies.

Mental health support, extended parental leave and flexible working arrangements are just some of the things now considered to be standard practice by Aussies, according to the report.

And while workplace perks are enjoyed, many bosses have been offering them instead of increasing pay.

For business owners, it seems simple: offer more money, or allow staff to work from home occasionally at no cost to the business?

But especially in these trying times it is important to know your worth and ask for what you deserve. Don’t wait for your employer to offer you a pay rise; ask for one yourself.

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