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Australian workers less confident over wages

Friday, 17 September 2010 | By Oliver Milman

Australian workers have scaled back their wage expectations, despite the improving economic conditions, new figures have shown.


The September consumer sentiment survey by Westpac and Melbourne Institute found that 54% of respondents expected their base wage to rise over the next year, down from 56% in March.


Even those anticipating a wage rise lowered their expectations of the year ahead, with most now anticipating up to a 4% raise. Those expecting a rise of 4% or more fell from 27% to 20%.


The report says: “The mix suggests consumers are still secure in their wage outlook but that optimists have significantly reined-in expectations.”


Wage expectations improved in NSW, Victoria and South Australia, although there was a significant dip in Western Australia. However, wage optimism in WA is still ahead of any other state in the nation.


Those aged 18 to 24 had the sharpest dip in wage expectations, although there was a rise in most other age groups. However, those expecting more than 4% increases in pay declined in all groups except 35 to 44-year-olds.


Employees on the highest incomes were still the most optimistic about their wage outlook.


The dip in expectations will be a boost to many start-ups looking to take on staff for the first time. Recent data has suggested that a booming mining sector could adversely squeeze wage and skills levels for employers.