Some small signs of better wage rises

by Greg Jericho

The latest enterprise agreements figures show small signs of wage growth and once again the benefits of being in a union

Ever since unemployment has fallen below 4% we have been looking for some signs that wages are starting to increase. For the most part, the signs have been more not by their absence than their observation. But the latest data from the Fair Work Commission give a small slice of hope that things are in the improve.

After some disappointing figures in the fortnight of 9 September, the two most recent releases of enterprise agreements lodged with the Fair Work Commission show stronger wage growth.

In the fortnight to 23 September, 16,526 employees were covered by agreements with average annual wage growth of 3.0%, followed in the fortnight to 7 October with 20,973 employees covered by agreements with an average annual wage growth of 3.6%.

While these figures are signs that wage growth is increasing it of course remains around half the rate of inflation growth and will still see a strong fall in real wages for the workers.

We also need to exercise some caution because the weighted average annual wage growth of all agreements lodged since 15 July is just 3.03%.

The data once again highlights the benefit of being in a union. In the latest two periods, agreements lodged by a union had an average wage rise of 4.6% and then 3.9%.

In every fortnight since the FWC began publishing the data, agreements lodged by a union have had higher average wage rises.

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