Wage growth still ‘missing in action’
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says wage increases remain rare among its 35 member ‘countries’ including Australia.
The OECD says unemployment rates are now even lower than what they were before the Global Financial Crisis. This, it says, should create the right environment for workers to demand higher pay and better conditions.
However, it said significant pay rises remain rare and the trend growth rate for average hourly wage increases had more than halved from 4.8 per cent before the crash to 2.1 per cent.
Stefano Scarpetta, the OECD’s director of employment, labour and social affairs, said the most worrying finding was that “this unprecedented wage stagnation is not evenly distributed across workers”.
“While jobs are finally back, only some fortunate few at the top are also enjoying improvements in earnings and job quality,” he said.
Many economists attribute the sluggish wage growth to a fall in the power of unions, the rise of the gig economy and the proliferation of part-time jobs and other precarious forms of work.
The OECD found that in countries where working people are able to bargain together across industries or sectors, wages, overall employment, economic equality, productivity and even the quality of working environments, are better than in countries like Australia where bargaining is limited to a single business.