Wage growth under enterprise agreements shows no signs of driving inflation

by Greg Jericho

Wages growth under enterprise agreements show that workers continue to be the ones doing it toughest during the period of high inflation

When the most recent quarterly enterprise agreements figures were released earlier this month some economists suggested the big jump in average wage growth from 2.9% in the September quarter to 3.5% in the December quarter was a sign of a wages breakout.

The reality, as we noted at the time, was the increase was due to two major agreements in the education and hospitality industry, and that the fortnightly figures released by the Fair Work Commission showed little signs of wages growing faster.

The latest figures out yesterday reinforce this view. The average annual wage growth under enterprise agreements has been around 3.5% for some months now.

Rather than being a sign of a wages breakout, the data reflects just how difficult it is for workers to get ongoing and long-term wage rises above inflation.

A 3.5% wage growth over 3 years would still see wages falling in real terms given the current inflation expectations.

There remains no signs at all of wages driving inflation. The latest figures show that workers continue to be the ones showing restrain, unlike companies, such as those in the banking sector, which are producing record profits and driving up the cost of living through higher prices for services and products.

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