What Does The Average Australian Earn In A Week?

What Does The Average Australian Earn In A Week?
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In our offices, there are often hushed conversations. “How much is she earning?” or “There’s no way he deserves the money we reckon he’s on”. And while executive salaries, which are often exorbitant, get a lot of attention many of us wonder whether we’re getting paid fairly for the work we do.

Determining that can be tricky. Then there’s the question of whether you’re being paid “enough” – whatever that means for you. So, what do most Australians earn?

The National View

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent data the median weekly pay-packet for full-time employees was $1261. There was a disparity, sadly but not unsurprisingly, with men collecting $1342 from the paymaster each week compared to $1187 for women. However, women have been catching up over recent years with salaries for men not recording any growth for two of the last three years while women’s pay-packets have increased each year.

Men get paid slightly more per hour in full-time roles while women fare better in part-time gigs.

When you break this down state by state (or territory) and look at average salaries as well as medians, we see the following.

City Median Weekly salary Average Weekly salary
Sydney $1310 $1641
Melbourne $1280 $1574
Brisbane $1308 $1584
Adelaide $1200 $1512
Perth $1400 $1821
Darwin $1380 $1807
Canberra $1500 $1835
Hobart $1199 $1426

In other words, the average salary is substantially higher than the median.

A Quick Explainer On Medians And Averages

Determining the average salary of all full-time people is calculated by adding all the salaries and dividing by the number of people. The median is the middle value in a range of salaries.

For example, let’s say we have a group of nine employees with salaries of $91,000, $84,000, $56,000, $90,000, $70,000, $65,000, $90,000, $92,000, and $30,000.

If we add all those and divide by nine (the number of people) we get an average of $74000.

If we arrange those numbers in ascending order, the value in the middle, or the median, is $84000.

The average has been dragged down substantially by the lower salary in the group.

So, when we look at data coming from the ABS or other places, it’s a good idea to know the different terms being used.

What Does All This Mean?

While politicians often use average salaries as a way of justifying decisions around policies such as tax cuts the reality is, they aren’t necessarily the best indicator of what people are actually earning. In every major city (the ABS also has data that looks statewide and not just at the major capitals) the data reveals the same pattern – average salaries are substantially higher than medians.

That means there are more people earning less that the average. Just as in the example I used to illustrate the difference between an average and a median, where the “outrider” value of $30000 pulled the average down, the same can happen when there are more high income earners than low income earners.

This is what we see with the salary data coming from the ABS. With the median values substantially lower than the average, there’s a high number of people earning low incomes, thus pulling the median down, while there are fewer high income earners, but who are earning extremely high salaries dragging the average up.

The data suggests that most Australians are earning salaries that fall between the average and the medians in their respective cities or states. If you’re earning the average salary or more based on where you live then you’re getting paid more than most people. But if you’re closer to the median, then you’re in a large short of earners but you’re pay packet is lighter than the average.

This story has been updated since its original publication.


          • I get slightly different figures, approximately $260 @ $1300 per week and $390 @ $1700 per week. But that’s not really at issue. In either case you don’t think that’s huge? It is if you’re living on it. For a single person $230-260 a week is probably your groceries, water bill, rates and electricity all covered.

          • I used the tax figures from the ATO site to calculate the figures I used (final figures are rounded slightly for convenience). I find it really interesting that there are three of us talking three different sets of figures 0_o

          • I do know the ones I attached match my pay perfectly so I know them to be accurate.

          • @juststu82: Maybe, maybe not. I know my employer used to take out slightly more than the actual rate. It meant at the end of the year (even with no deductions) I’d always get a small tax return.

            Although, if that were the case in your example the figures should be even higher. So who knows 0_o

          • I used paycalculator.com.au.

            My calculation included superannuation in it, which is why it is different.

            Regardless, in what context are we considering that “a lot” ? For that you get to live in one of the safest countries on the planet, with one of the highest standards of living, supported by some of the best public services and social security (despite the ongoing attempts of the Coalition to destroy them).

            There are not many places in the world where you pay less tax than Australia, and even fewer you’d probably want to live in at the same relative income level.

          • So you’re proposing tax be reduced by how much ? So it’s only 15% of the total ? 10% ? 5% ? 0 ?

          • No one was proposing that tax be reduced at all. I’m not sure where you got that from. All we’re talking about was what the base figures were, with or without tax because it makes a difference. Personally, if I look at the averages in the article if it’s before tax then I’m above the average, if it’s after tax then I’m below. (Which actually indicates I’m really close to the average).

            And I’ve already explained why it’s a lot. $250 a week actually pays a lot of regular bills.

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