Salary panic: why Australians should start worrying

Angus Kidman 28 April 2016


Salary growth is slowing, according to new AIM research.

The good news is that Australian salaries are still going up. The bad news is that they're going up more slowly than ever.

Salaries went up 3% during 2016, according to the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) 2016 National Salary Survey. That's down from 3.4% the previous year, and the overall figure has fallen 1.1% over a four-year period.

The national average conceals some big variations across states and industries. In mining-dependent Western Australia and Queensland, the growth figure was lower. The biggest decreases were seen in construction, retail and finance.

The latest consumer price index (CPI) figures show prices have increased 1.3% in the 12 months to March 2016. That means that salaries are still growing faster than inflation. However, the rate of decline for wage growth is following the same downtrend trend as inflation itself, which raises the prospect of further falls in the year ahead. AIM says that matching trends in wage growth and inflation have been a rare event in Australia.

Faced with a flat or declining salary, the usual advice is to seek out a higher-paying job, and it seems many of us are doing that. Amongst people who have sought out new jobs, 44.4% said that they were seeking better financial rewards.

AIM's data is based on a survey of 500 organisations covering 25,000 employees. Given its focus on larger companies and management roles, it's likely to paint a rosier picture than the broader market, where 7-Eleven style wage shiftiness is a real problem.

Pay isn't the only factor you should consider when taking a job, of course. Getting a big salary while being forced to work for a pack of jerks isn't sustainable in the long run. Last year, the finder team mashed together data on typical salaries and workplace culture for 189 organisations, and checking out that list is definitely a good place to start when you're contemplating a potential employer.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on

Picture: Shutterstock

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