Australian Bureau of Statistics
4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jul 2011
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/08/2011 First Issue
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In May 2010, the average (mean) non-managerial adult hourly ordinary time cash earnings for females was $28.70, compared to $32.30 for males. The 11% lower earnings for females compared to male earnings is same as in May 2006 but narrower than the 13% gap in May 2008.
Earnings from paid work determine most Australians' capacity to buy goods and services for consumption and for saving, and are a key determinant of material living standards. (Endnote 1)
Non-managerial adult hourly ordinary time cash earnings is a widely used measure of earnings as it is unaffected by fluctuations in the hours worked or overtime performed. On average, male employees work more hours and overtime hours per week than do female employees.
Compared to the mean, the difference between male and female median non-managerial adult hourly ordinary time cash earnings was lower. In May 2010, the median adult hourly ordinary time cash earnings for females was 93% ($24.70) of the median adult hourly ordinary time cash earnings for males ($26.70). The mean adult hourly ordinary time cash earnings for females was 89% of their male counterparts ($28.70 and $32.30 respectively). For both males and females, the fact that the median non-managerial adult hourly ordinary time cash earnings were lower than respective mean earnings indicates that a greater proportion of males and females receive earnings below the average earnings. The smaller male/ female gap in median earnings compared to mean earnings also suggests that a relatively greater proportion of men than women have earnings below the mean for their gender.
Across industries, mean non-managerial adult hourly ordinary time cash earnings varied for both males and females. In May 2010, earnings were highest for those employed in the Mining industry. Female earnings were $40.80, 19% below the male earnings at $50.30. Females also only represented 14% of this industry's workforce.
Male and female mean earnings in the Mining industry were approximately double those in the Accommodation and food services industry ($22.00 for males and $21.00 for females) and Retail trade industry ($23.90 for males and $22.10 for females). These two industries also employed higher proportions of females (55% and 57% respectively) than did the Mining industry. At May 2010, female earnings in the Accommodation and food services and Retail trade industries were 5% and 8% lower than male earnings.
Overall, the difference in male and female earnings was lowest for the Public administration and safety industry, with female adult non-managerial hourly ordinary time cash earnings ($32.40) equating to 97% of male earnings ($33.30). The difference between male and female earnings was typically lower for industries with lower hourly earnings (particularly for males), and higher for those industries with higher hourly earnings. (Endnote 2)
The skill level of an occupation is measured by the amount of formal education and training and previous experience usually required for entry into that occupation. The mean hourly ordinary time cash earnings (in May 2010) were typically higher, for both male and female adult non-managerial employees, in line with higher occupational skill levels.
A reason often given for the persistence of a difference in male and female earnings in Australia is that work performed within female-dominated occupations is undervalued relative to the same work performed within male-dominated occupations. While males and females performing the same task for the same employer may get paid at the same hourly rate, males and females performing comparable work for different employers are often paid at different rates. (Endnote 2) A complicating factor is that in some industries and occupations where a significant proportion of the labour force are female, non-cash income can be a significant component of total remuneration.
Overall, males had higher mean non-managerial adult hourly ordinary time cash earnings than females across all major occupation groups. This difference was smallest for Machinery operators and drivers (female earnings were 11% lower), and highest for Technicians and trades workers (19% lower).
Some occupations are typically characterised by career progression across an incremental pay scale. In these occupations, females who withdraw from the labour force to raise children or perform other caring roles may forgo or postpone promotion-based increases that males of the same age may receive through continuous employment in an occupation. (Endnote 2)
ADULT WEEKLY TOTAL CASH EARNINGS
In May 2010, mean adult weekly total cash earnings for female employees was $828. This represents 69% of the mean adult weekly total cash earnings for male employees ($1,192). The median weekly total cash earnings for female employees was 27% lower than for male employees ($746 and $1,018 respectively).
Compared to hourly earnings, the relative difference between male and female weekly total cash earnings was larger because of the impact of varying hours associated with overtime worked and part-time hours. For example, male employees are predominantly engaged in a full-time capacity (77% of all male employees in May 2010), whereas female employment was almost equally split between full-time (49%) and part-time (51%) positions. (Endnote 3) On average, females working in a part-time capacity also tend to work fewer hours than their male part-time counterparts. Male employees also work more overtime hours per week than female employees.
In May 2010, the mean weekly total cash earnings were highest for those males and females working in the Mining industry ($2,320 and $1,614 respectively) and lowest for males and females working in the Accommodation and food services industry ($526 and $434 respectively).
In May 2010, the difference between male and female mean adult weekly total cash earnings was highest for the Financial and insurance services industry, with average earnings for females at $1,078, 44% lower than the $1,939 for males.
In contrast, Managers represented the occupational group with the lowest difference in male and female average adult weekly total cash earnings, with females receiving $1,597, 19% lower than the male earnings of $1,979. The highest difference in male and female average adult weekly total cash earnings was for Labourers (females receiving $473, 37% lower than the $750 received by males).
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010, (cat. no. 1370.0), ABS, Canberra, <www.abs.gov.au>.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2005, Australian Social Trends, 2005, (cat. no. 4102.0), ABS, Canberra, <www.abs.gov.au>.
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia, May 2010, (cat. no. 6306.0), ABS, Canberra, <www.abs.gov.au>.
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This page last updated 2 August 2012