Wages growth not so bad since 2011

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)

There are a plenty of gripes about wage growth falling behind the rate of inflation and people struggling to get into the housing market.

The latest weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer sentiment gauge shows while confidence has stabilised after trending lower for nearly a year, persistently weak wage growth and rising energy costs are still weighing on the mood of the nation.

However, the 2016 Census shines a different light on our financial wellbeing and shows Australians haven’t done too badly in the past five years.

While annual wage growth has slowed to a record low 1.9 per cent, the median weekly income has increased nearly 15 per cent since 2011, outpacing a rise of around 10 per cent in the consumer price index in that time.

The Census shows weekly wage growth among households was even greater, rising to $1438 and a 16.5 per cent increase over five years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Tuesday also showed the proportion of Australians paying off a mortgage stands at 34 per cent and similar to 2011, despite the surge in house prices, and is actually up from the 27 per cent recorded 25 years ago.

However, the proportion of people who have paid-off their mortgage has declined to 31 per cent from 32.1 per cent five years ago and from 40 per cent in 1991.

There has also been a shift towards renting, with nearly 31 per cent now paying a landlord, up from just under 30 per cent five years ago and 27 per cent a quarter of a century ago.

Median rents have increased 17.5 per cent since 2011, increasing from $335 per week from $285 and at a faster rate than inflation, but those with a mortgage have seen their repayments fall.

The monthly median home loan repayment is $1755 compared with $1800 in 2011.

Commonwealth Bank economist Kristina Clifton points out official interest rates have come down by a total of 300 basis points between these two censuses, making debt servicing easier.

However, the data did not take into account the increasing difficulty for first home buyers to save for a deposit.

“This is because house prices have run well ahead of income growth,” Ms Clifton said.

Separate ABS monthly housing finance figures show the proportion of first-time home buyers taking out a home loan was 13.9 per cent in April, remaining close to the record low 12.9 per cent set a year earlier.


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