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Australian wages remain almost 5% below pre-COVID levels

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The 2024 OECD Employment Outlook analysed the labour market in 35 countries and found Australia was among 16 countries whose wages remain beloved pre-COVID levels.
A global report has found Australian wages are growing at slow rates compared to some of the world’s biggest economies.

A global report has found Australian wages are growing at slow rates compared to some of the world’s biggest economies.

The 2024 OECD Employment Outlook analysed the labour market in 35 countries.

It found ‘real wages’ in Australia remain 4.8% below 2019 levels.

Real wages are the average weekly earnings for full-time employees, adjusted for inflation.

Here’s what you need to know.

OECD

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international think tank. It aims to gather social, economic and environmental data “to establish evidence-based international standards.”

The OECD annual labour market snapshot analysed jobs data from countries including the UK, Canada, Germany, and the U.S.

Its key indicators were wage growth, employment rates, job quality and skill shortages.

Wages growth

Real wage growth trended upwards in most OECD countries, with an average 3.5% annual increase.

However, real wages are yet to recover in 16 of the 35 countries, including Australia.

National real wages remain below 4.8% below pre-pandemic levels —
“one of the largest drops in real wages among OECD countries,” the report said.

Minimum Wages

The OECD report found minimum wages in almost all countries increased to above pre-COVID levels (up by 8.3% on average since 2019).

Despite the overall real wage performance, Australian real minimum wages are up 13% since 2019.

It comes after the National Minimum Wage and minimum award wages increased 3.75% from 1 July.

Unemployment

In the first quarter of this year, the unemployment rate across all 35 countries dropped to a near-record low 4.9%.

Employment among young people aged between 15 and 24 years old increased by almost 4%.

In Australia, unemployment has gone up 3.6% in the last year. However, the percentage of employed working-age people is up 2% since COVID.

Future Workforce

This year’s report also focused on the impact of the net-zero transition on the labour market.

20% of workers in OECD countries are employed across industries that have emerged as part of 2050 targets.

A total of 7% of jobs were in high-emission industries, such as fossil fuels. The report suggested countries focus on policies that protect these workers facing inevitable job loss.

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