How Your Wages Changed This Year

A key factor in this Saturday's election for many people will be choosing the party that they believe will leave more money in their hip pocket. But just how much is in that hip pocket in the first place? New survey data tracks what our wages have done over the last year, and where we think they'll go next.

Picture by sercasey

According to the Melbourne Institute, in the 12 months to August 2010 average wages growth in Australia was 4%, based on a survey of 1200 households. We've noted before that over the last decade, salaries have typically risen by around 5% each year according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but there's variation from year to year so a figure such as 4% doesn't represent any kind of massive deviation.

Rising salaries are more common than declines; 65% of respondents had their wages go up, while just 6% saw a drop and 29% saw no change. The most notable variation was across states: the average rise was much higher in WA (6.3%) and the ACT (10%). The latter figure ties in with a reported shortage of tech workers in the national capital.

We appear to be doing slightly better than we were late last year. Figures from the Melbourne Institute last November suggested wages had risen by 3% over the 12 months prior, with many workers feeling the pinch from a lack of overtime. Nonetheless, that sense of pessimism still informs our thinking, with survey respondents tipping an average rise of 2.6% over the next 12 months.

While the historical figures are based on actual pay, our own estimates of what will happen with our salaries aren't necessarily accurate, since we don't really have any idea of what might happen in the broader economy (or even, in many cases, with our individual employers). And while there's nothing wrong with positive thinking, merely assuming you'll make more money rarely results in a fuller wallet.

If you want an above-average rise, you'll need to work for it. Learn how to negotiate your salary more effectively and why tipping your hand can backfire.

Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


    I was happy this year after my pay review. It was quite generous, especially compared to last year being more or less flat.

    Still waiting on mine... It will come (& they usually backdate it to July 1st) but it won't be large I'm sure...

    Also waiting on mine. My employer, despite posting some amazing profits, has offered a pay increase of 1.5%. The union has demanded at least 4% but no-one is moving.

    "A key factor in this Saturday’s election for many people will be choosing the party that they believe will leave more money in their hip pocket."

    That statement alone is a testament to how times have changed. Instead of the pertinent question being "What's the best for all of us?" it has become "What's in it for me?" The Chaser had it spot on with the song they broadcast last night - "They're all ****ed."

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