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Wages grow 3.1%, but still lag behind inflation

Australian walking in the city. Australian money notes.
Wages are still trailing behind the rising cost of living. (Source: Getty)

Aussie wages rose at their fastest rate in more than 10 years, but they’re still lagging behind the rising cost of living.

The Wage Price Index increased by 1 per cent in the September quarter and 3.1 per cent annually, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This was the fastest quarterly growth since March 2012, the ABS said, while the annual growth was the highest recorded since March 2013.

Private-sector wages drove up the quarterly increase, the ABS said, along with the Fair Work Commission’s decision to increase the minimum wage by $40 per week on July 1.

“In seasonally adjusted terms, this growth was primarily driven by increases in wages for the private sector, which grew at twice the rate of wages in the public sector (1.2 per cent compared to 0.6 per cent),” ABS program manager of prices Michelle Marquardt said.

For private-sector jobs, the average hourly wage increase was 4.3 per cent, up from 2.9 per cent in the September quarter last year. In comparison, the average size of hourly wage rises for public-sector jobs was 2.3 per cent.

Jobs in the healthcare and social assistance, as well as the professional, scientific and technical services industries were the main contributors to growth.

The retail trade industry recorded the highest quarterly and annual growth (2.4 per cent and 4.2 per cent), while the education and training industry recorded the lowest growth (0.8 per cent and 2.2 per cent).

South Australians experienced the highest quarterly growth rate (1.8 per cent), while Tasmania had the highest annual increase in wages (3.6 per cent).

But wages are still lagging well behind inflation. The consumer price index rose 7.3 per cent annually in September, the highest increase since 1990.

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