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Wage Price Index data: Industry disparities call for increased employee support


Despite reports of an easing labour market in Australia, cost-of-living pressures are biting. In fact, Reward Gateway’s latest data found the cost of living negatively impacts work life for over half of Australian employees

While this week’s increase in the Wage Price Index is a positive step towards alleviating these strains, the impact varies across sectors with some feeling the benefits more than others. 

Examining the sectors lagging behind in terms of wage growth, Kylie Green, Managing Director, APAC, Reward Gateway shares insight into how employers in those industries can mitigate the rising costs of living for their employees if pay rises are off the table. Here’s her advice to business leaders. 

“While today’s increase in the Wage Price Index (WPI) is a positive move towards alleviating cost of living pressures for employees, the impact varies across sectors. The data reveals the public sector lags behind on wage growth with just 18% of employees receiving a pay rise in March quarter 2024 compared to 38% in March quarter 2023. In the private sector however, total hourly rates of pay excluding bonuses are up by 0.8%, and are seeing their highest annual growth for the sector since December 2008.

“While this is a step in the right direction for employees in the private sector, it simply isn’t enough to keep up with the rising cost of living with industries like retail trade, accommodation and food services having grown by less than 0.02 percentage points over the last quarter. 

“At a time where significant business-wide pay increases might not be a viable option, it’s important that employers recognise alternative support they can provide outside of salary adjustments to mitigate the rising costs of living for their people while also keeping business costs low. Banking & finance, tech, food & beverage, manufacturing, healthcare, construction & engineering and not for profit sectors already recognise this trend, with our data showing employers in these sectors are most likely to provide benefits to their employees outside of salary adjustments.

“Whether businesses provide discounts or benefits to help save on everyday items like grocery, petrol and popular retailers, organisations need to think outside the box to help make up the shortfall. Our own data shows an extraordinary shift in the benefits our customers are opting for, with grocery and fuel discounts now becoming the most popular benefit on our platform. Overall, the impact of including a benefits scheme into a remuneration package can increase disposable incomes by up to 10%.”

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