9 in 10 Believe It’s Governments Job to Ensure Wages Keep Up with Cost of Living: Research Polling

The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,001 Australians about their views on wages and cost of living between 1-4 November.

The majority of Australians report that their wages have not kept up with the cost of living over the past 12 months.

“This research shows most Australians feel like they are falling behind and almost everyone believes it’s the Government job to do what it can to ensure wages keep up with the cost of living,” said Greg Jericho, Labor Market & Fiscal Policy Director at the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work.

“This belief was consistent across all voting intentions, including 81% of Coalition voters.

“The research shows women are feeling the pinch more than men. This is interesting given Minister Burke, Senator David Pocock and the Greens have all expressed a desire to better supporting feminised industries and low-paid women via the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill and the associated provisions in the supported bargaining stream for sectors like Early Childhood Education & Care.

“Two thirds of Australians believe laws with make it easier to bargain collectively will be most effective at getting wages moving.

“Working Australians know that the current industrial relations system needs a stronger safety net and a greater ability for workers to bargain for better wages.

“The Australian public know the system needs fixing, and with real wages now falling faster than they have anytime on record, the need for change is more urgent than ever”.

Key Results:

  • Nine in 10 Australians (87%) agree with the statement “it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that real wages grow to keep up with the cost of living”, irrespective of voting intention.
    • Agreement that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that real wages grow to keep up with the cost of living is highest among Labor (92%) and Greens voters (92%).
    • Four in five Coalition (81%) and One Nation voters (84%) agree that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that real wages grow to keep up with the cost of living.
    • For two in three Australians (68%) their wages have either not grown at all or grown slower than the cost of living.
    • This is higher among women, with 42% saying their wages have not grown at all and 34% saying their wages have grown slower than the cost of living.
  • Two in three Australians (67%) think changing laws to make it easier for workers to bargain collectively would be an effective way to get wages increasing faster.
  • Fewer than one in two Australians (46%) think that working harder personally at one’s job would be an effective way to get wages to increase faster.
  • Respondents were asked about the most effective way to get wages moving, and were presented with 4 options:
    • The most popular (3 in 4 or 73%) was ‘strengthening government regulation on wage setting’
    • Two in three Australians (66%) selected ‘changing laws to make it easier for workers to bargain collectively’
    • Three in five Australians (62%) said ‘labour market forces’ would be very or somewhat effective for getting wages to increase faster.
    • Less than half of Australians (46%) think ‘working harder personally at one’s job’ would be very or somewhat effective for getting wages to increase faster

The Australia Institute is an accredited member of the Australian Polling Council. The polling methodology, long disclosure statement and margin of error for polling questions are included in the appendix of the report

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