Wages rise in December quarter

Strongest annual growth since 2009

Wages rise in December quarter


By Mina Martin

The latest ABS data has shown a significant upturn in wage growth, marking the highest annual increase in15 years amidst robust public sector performance.

ABS reported a 0.9% increase in the Wage Price Index for the December quarter of 2023, culminating in a 4.2% rise over the year. This growth aligns with the December quarter of 2022 for the private sector, while the public sector celebrates a record 1.3% increase, the most substantial quarterly growth witnessed since 2009.

Sector-specific wage growth drivers

Michelle Marquardt (pictured above), ABS’s head of price statistics, said wage growth was propelled by annual wage and salary reviews across both sectors.

“Wage growth for December quarter 2023 saw a higher contribution from jobs covered by enterprise agreements than is typically recorded for a December quarter,” Macquardt said in a media release.

“Higher growth in the public sector was primarily due to newly implemented enterprise agreements for essential workers in the health care and social assistance and education and training industries following changes to state-based wages policies.”

Annual wage growth achievements

The December quarter’s annual wage growth rate of 4.2% represents the highest since the March quarter of 2009. Despite a slight deceleration in the private sector to 4.2% from 4.3% in the September quarter, the public sector's growth rate escalated to 4.3%, marking the highest increase since March 2010.

“The proportion of public sector jobs with a wage rise can vary due to the cyclical pattern of enterprise bargaining,” Marquardt said.

“In the December quarter 2023, 38% of public sector jobs saw a wage rise, considerably higher than the 29% from the same quarter in the previous year. The average hourly wage change for these jobs has lifted to 4.3%, higher than 2.8% at the same time last year and the highest recorded since September 2008.”

Industry highlights and variances

The education and training industry led the quarter with a 1.7% wage growth, while accommodation and food services trailed at 0.3%.

Annually, the healthcare and social assistance industry topped growth charts at 5.5%, marking the highest rate since the series’ inception in 1998. Conversely, the finance and insurance services industry observed the lowest annual wage growth at 3.2%.

For more detailed insights, refer to the ABS’s Wage Price Index, Australia.

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