27/02/2008 - 22:00

WA pay packets topped up

27/02/2008 - 22:00

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Western Australians are earning more than workers in any other state and the gap between the states is getting larger, new Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

Western Australians are earning more than workers in any other state and the gap between the states is getting larger, new Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

Average annual ordinary time earnings in WA rose to just more than $63,000 in November 2007, compared with the national average of $57,730.

CommSec Equities economist Savanth Sebastian said the mining boom had clearly been beneficial for WA workers as the wage gap between the states was the largest ever since records were first maintained 23 years ago.

“The gap in wages between Western Australia and other states continues to grow. The commodity super cycle has no intention of stopping any time soon with China’s insatiable demand for commodities likely to continue,” he said.

The one region that outstripped WA was the Australian Capital Territory, which is dominated by Canberra public servants. Average wages there increased to $1,310.20 per week, or $68,130 per year.

The ABS data also showed that wages growth in WA was higher than in other states.

Nationally, full-time adult ordinary time earnings rose by 4.9 per cent in the year to November 2007. The rise for males was 4.8 per cent and for females it was 5 per cent.

By comparison, average wages in WA rose by 7.3 per cent over the year.

Fastest earnings growth over the past year was by construction workers (up 11.6 per cent) while weakest earnings growth was in the transport and storage sector (up 0.2 per cent).

The highest average wage can be found in the mining sector, at $95,716 per year followed by finance and insurance $71,817, and electricity, gas & water $69,082.

The lowest average wage is obtained by workers in the accommodation, cafes and restaurants sector ($42,978), followed by retail trade ($44,767) and manufacturing ($53,638).

Economists believe the wage growth data will confirm the Reserve Bank’s intention to increase interest rates later this year to counter inflationary pressures in the economy.

HSBC chief economist John Edwards said that, despite the unemployment rate hitting a record low in January, and consumer price inflation rising to three per cent, wages growth had been moderate.

“For the private sector, the seasonally adjusted labour price index rose 1.1 per cent – not much higher than the one per cent recorded for December quarter 1997, when the series began,” he said.

Dr Edwards said while the 4.3 per cent annual rise in private sector wages was a record, it was to be expected considering the strength of the Australian economy.

“This is the highest annual rate in the history of the series, but not much higher than usual and not an alarming outcome given the Australia’s economic circumstances,” he said.

“Even so, we still expect the RBA to increase the cash rate 25 basis points in March and once again before the middle of the year, with the chance of a 50 basis points increase somewhat higher in the light of yesterday’s board minutes.”

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