Retail and Manufacturing among only sectors where income growth is beating inflation

Today’s release of the Sept 2018 Labour Account data series (see here for more details) allows us to take a look at incomes across various industry sectors and how they have changed in the past 12 months. The table below shows, for selected industries, the year-on-year changes in the average hourly income per employed person, the average number of hours actually worked per employed person, and the resultant average income per employed person.

Industry Avg Hourly Income
% y/y
Avg Hours Worked
% y/y
Avg Income
% y/y
Retail +8.4 -3.1 +4.9
Public Admin +0.7 +0.1 +0.7
Healthcare +1.8 -0.2 +1.7
Construction -0.2 -2.5 -2.8
Education +0.6 +0.2 +0.7
Accomm & Food +0.3 -0.7 -0.3
Manufacturing +3.9 -0.3 +3.8
Mining +2.6 -2.9 -0.4
ALL +3.3 -1.3 +2.1

Across all industries average hourly income rose by 3.3% but the average number of hours fell 1.3% resulting in an increase in average income of just 2.1% (just above inflation).

Many industry sectors saw average hours worked fall, particularly Retail where average hourly incomes rose sharply at the same time as average hourly incomes spiked higher. The inference that increases in hourly rates (awards and penalty rates) led to sharp cuts in hours being worked is inevitable.

Construction saw a decline in hours worked combined with a slight decline in hourly rates leading to a significant decline in average total income for workers; confirming the ongoing weakness in this sector.

Manufacturing was one of the few sectors which saw hourly rates increase well above inflation (+3.9%) with only a minimal impact on hours worked; resulting in a solid total income increase of almost double inflation.

As the table makes clear, few sectors saw average incomes increase much beyond inflation; Retail (+4.9%) and Manufacturing (+3.8%) being a couple of notable exceptions.

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