Image for STATE: Wages in private boom but public slump

Public sector rates of pay in Tasmania rose by less in the September quarter than anywhere in Australia with the exception of the ACT. But it was a different story in the private sector, where overall rises outstripped those in every other jurisdiction.

This has profound implications for all sectors of the state’s economy.

In the three months ending September, government employees’ average hourly pay rose by only 0.2%, against 1.0% nationally. The annual rate was also the second-lowest , at 1.8% against 2.7% nationally.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirm that Tasmania’s public wages have long been the lowest in the nation, but that the gap is widening.

Private sector employers, though, are having to pay extra to fill skilled vacancies and to keep in-demand workers.

The relative boom in non-government pay, driven by the construction and hospitality sectors, saw quarterly pay rise by 1.2% compared with a national average of 0.8%.

This puts the annual rate of increase at 2.7%, compared with 2.4% for the nation.

Private employers across a range of sectors have reported difficulty in finding and retaining skilled staff. As a result their Tasmanian staff are, on average, among the highest-paid in Australia.

More of the total wages bill ...

The relative slump in the wages of Tasmania’s Commonwealth, state and local government employees hits the Tasmanian economy more than it is boosted by the rise in private pay.

This state’s government sector accounts for more of the economy, and more of the total wages bill, than in most other jurisdictions.

Public employees have been hit by cuts from both the state and federal governments.

Tasmania has 2.2% of the Australian population but our public employees account for 2.4% of the national wage bill.

The private sector accounts for only 1.5%.

Overall, Tasmanian workers earn far less than their peers in all other jurisdictions other than the Northern Territory.

Though we have 2.2% of the population, we account for only 1.7% of the nation’s wages.

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