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 Australian incomes stalled since 2009, latest HILDA data shows

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Australian incomes stalled since 2009, latest HILDA data shows Empty
PostSubject: Australian incomes stalled since 2009, latest HILDA data shows   Australian incomes stalled since 2009, latest HILDA data shows EmptyTue 31 Jul 2018, 4:27 pm

If you feel like you're treading water with your household finances don't worry, you're not alone.

The latest instalment from the Melbourne Institute's study of Household Income and Labour Dynamics, or HILDA as it is affectionately known, shows the typical Australian household hasn't seen their post-tax real income rise noticeably since 2009.

That year, the median household had a disposable income of $79,160, at 2016 price levels.

In 2016, the latest year of HILDA data available, the median income was barely higher at $79,244.

One piece of good news is that real incomes, adjusted for inflation, did rise 1.8 per cent between 2015 and 2016.

Another is that Australians previously enjoyed massive real income growth of 29 per cent between 2003 and 2009, thanks to the flow-on effects of mining boom mark one.

A third was that income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, has remained relatively steady throughout the entire period since HILDA started in 2001.

However, the Gini coefficient failed to capture one notable increase in income inequality, between the top 1 per cent and everyone else.

The report's co-author Professor Roger Wilkins said the very highest income earners had done better.

HILDA data is closely watched by the Reserve Bank and other policymakers as it provides a detailed snapshot on the social and financial details of more than 17,000 Australians each year, allowing researchers to track changes in the community.

One of the contributors to stagnating household incomes has been the rising prevalence of part-time work and underemployment.

The report's authors observe that, while Australia escaped the worst immediate effects of the global financial crisis, it marked a turning point for the labour market from which workers have never fully recovered.

"From 2001 until 2008, employment participation had been rising and unemployment had been falling," they wrote.

The change has been particularly stark for men aged between 18-64, for whom the part-time employment rate rose from just over 10 to approximately 14 per cent, while full-time employment slumped from 73.3 per cent in 2008 to 67 per cent in 2016, although full-time employment for women aged 18-64 was also slightly down on its pre-GFC peak of almost 40 per cent.

Coinciding with the increase in part-time work has been a steep rise in underemployment, which has jumped to well over 8 per cent according to Bureau of Statistics data, after spending most of the 1980s below 4 per cent and the bulk of the 1990s and early-2000s below 7 per cent.

The HILDA study shows more than a third of part-time workers are working fewer hours than they would like to, with underemployment most prevalent amongst those aged under 24, full-time students, immigrants from non-English speaking nations, those without post-high school qualifications, single people and those with moderate or severe disabilities.

Notably, almost 50 per cent of people aged 20-24 and immigrants from non-English speaking countries of any age who worked part-time wanted more hours.

However, according to HILDA, they are not working in the so-called "gig" economy.

At least to 2016, rates of self-employment had actually declined significantly since the turn of the century.

In 2001, close to 10 per cent of employed persons were solo self-employed, while more than 7.5 per cent of employed people not only worked for themselves but also employed others.

By 2016 this had fallen to 8.5 and just over 5 per cent respectively.
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