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Feature Article - Regional wage and salary earners in Western Australia
WESTERN AUSTRALIA IN CONTEXT
In 2000-01, there were 729,200 wage and salary earners in Western Australia - 9.8% of all wage and salary earners in Australia. In the five years to 2000-01, the number of Western Australian wage and salary earners increased by 3.1% (or 21,599) compared to the national increase of 3.9%. During this period, Western Australia had the fourth highest growth in wage and salary earners of all states and territories, behind Queensland (6.1%), Victoria (5.4%) and New South Wales (3.9%).
The average annual wage and salary income for Western Australian wage and salary earners was $33,620 in 2000-01 - up 14.5% (or $4,255) since 1996-97. Growth in Western Australia's average wage and salary income did not keep pace with growth at the national level of 17.0% (or $5,071) during the period. As a result, the difference between Western Australia's average wage and salary income and the national average increased from $319 in 1996-97 to $1,125 in 2000-01.
METROPOLITAN AND NON-METROPOLITAN AREAS
In 2000-01, three quarters (549,947) of the state's wage and salary earners resided in the Perth metropolitan area - largely unchanged from the proportion in 1996-97. During this period, the number of wage and salary earners in metropolitan Perth increased by 4.1% (21,714), compared to a decline of 0.4% (732) in non-metropolitan areas.
In 2000-01, wage and salary earners residing in the Perth metropolitan area recorded an average annual wage and salary income of $33,872, compared to $32,731 for those residing in non-metropolitan areas. Since 1996-97, growth in average wage and salary income has been stronger in metropolitan Perth (up $4,469 or 15.2%) than in non-metropolitan areas (up $3,570 or 12.2%).
WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS, Metropolitan(a) and non-metropolitan Western Australia: 1996-97 to 2000-01
REGIONAL WESTERN AUSTRALIA
NUMBER OF WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS
In 2000-01, the ten SLAs with the highest number of wage and salary earners in Western Australia were all located in the middle and outer suburbs of metropolitan Perth. This is not surprising given that these regions had the largest working age populations (i.e. persons aged 15 years and over) in the state. The outer northern SLA of Joondalup - South (50,541) had the highest number of wage and salary earners in 2000-01, followed by Stirling - Central (37,318), Melville (37,139), Gosnells (34,337) and Swan (33,225). Satellite centres along the south west corridor of Perth such as Rockingham (26,476) and Mandurah (14,316) also recorded high numbers of wage and salary earners. Kalgoorlie/Boulder was the most notable inland centre (14,307).
NUMBER OF WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS, By SLA, Western Australia: 2000-01
The ten SLAs with the lowest number of wage and salary earners in 2000-01 were all located in rural and remote areas of Western Australia. As might be expected, most of these regions had relatively small working age populations, ranging from 112 in Sandstone to 250 in Wandering. One exception to this pattern was Wiluna which had a working age population of 760.
Contributing to the low number of wage and salary earners in many regions was the high proportion of self-employed persons. In regions located in the wheatbelt of Western Australia, the proportion of self-employed persons ranged between 44.9% in Westonia to 62.1% in Woodanilling. These workers, many of whom are farmers, are excluded from the ATO wage and salary earner estimates.
CHANGE IN NUMBER OF WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS
Of the 150 SLAs in Western Australia, 42.7% recorded an increase in the number of wage and salary earners from 1996-97 to 2000-01. Outer regions of the Perth metropolitan area recorded the largest increases in wage and salary earners, most likely reflecting trends in population growth in outer metropolitan areas with new affordable housing. Joondalup - North recorded the highest increase of 3,696, followed by Swan (3,630) and Rockingham (3,233). The fastest increases in wage and salary earners were recorded in Perth - Inner (120.5%) and Perth - Remainder (39.9%), reflecting the growing trend toward high density inner city living. Rapid growth also extended along south west coastal regions of Western Australia from Mandurah (1,770 or 14.1%) to Augusta - Margaret River (733 or 26.5%). Other regions along the south west coastal corridor that showed strong gains in their wage and salary earner populations included Busselton (1,434 or 23.5%), Harvey (1,424 or 18.5%) and Dardanup (1,274 or 34.6%).
GROWTH IN WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS, BY SLA, WESTERN AUSTRALIA: 1996-97 TO 2000-01
SLAs WITH LARGEST AND FASTEST INCREASE IN WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS, Western Australia: 1996-97 to 2000-01
Regions showing some of the largest decreases in the number of wage and salary earners between 1996-97 and 2000-01 included many of the state's major mining areas. Among them, Kalgoorlie/Boulder recorded the largest decline of 1,638, followed by East Pilbara (1,036), Port Hedland (794), Coolgardie (702) and Ashburton (509). Decreases in these regions reflect the rationalisation within the mining industry during this period, influenced by low world commodity prices and increased global competition.
SLAs WITH LARGEST AND FASTEST DECREASE IN WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS, Western Australia: 1996-97 to 2000-01
Declining working age populations in rural and remote areas of Western Australia also had a distinct effect on the number of wage and salary earners in these areas. Apart from Halls Creek and Ngaanyatjarraku, the ten SLAs with the fastest decreases in wage and salary earners from 1996-97 to 2000-01 showed a decline in working age population over the same period - ranging from 13 in Menzies to 715 in East Pilbara. Decreases in wage and salary earners in areas with large Indigenous populations such as Halls Creek and Ngaanyatjarraku - both down around 40.0% - may have been due to the exclusion of Community Development Project (CDEP) participants from ATO wage and salary data since 1998-99. CDEP is a program that enables Indigenous persons to exchange unemployment benefits for opportunities to undertake work and training in their communities. Before 1998-99, specific instructions on the treatment of CDEP payments were not included in TaxPacks, and it may be possible that these participants reported income from this source as wage and salary income.
ANNUAL WAGE AND SALARY INCOME
In 2000-01, almost a quarter (36) of the 150 SLAs in Western Australia had an average annual wage and salary income above the state average ($33,620), although only one in five (31) exceeded the national average ($34,745). Six of the ten SLAs with the highest average wage and salary income in Western Australia were located in Perth's inner west, including Peppermint Grove, Cottesloe, Nedlands, Claremont, Subiaco and Mosman Park. All of these regions had an average wage and salary income above $44,000. This is not surprising given that between 34.7% (Mosman Park) and 46.6% (Peppermint Grove) of wage and salary earners in these SLAs were employed in Professional or Management and administration occupations, compared to 22.0% across the state. Of these workers, more than two in five earned over $52,000 per year.
AVERAGE WAGE AND SALARY INCOME, By SLA, Western Australia: 2000-01
In 2000-01, four of the ten SLAs with the highest average annual wage and salary income in Western Australia were located in regions with significant mining activity, including Ashburton, East Pilbara, Coolgardie and Port Hedland. Average annual incomes in these regions ranged from $44,770 in Port Hedland to $51,781 in Ashburton - the highest of any region in the state - reflecting the comparatively high earnings of those working in the state's mining industry. The proportion of wage and salary earners in these SLAs earning in excess of $52,000 per year ranged from 37.0% in Port Hedland to 47.6% in Ashburton - compared to 16.6% across Western Australia.
In comparison to the metropolitan SLAs in the top ten, these mining regions had relatively few Professionals and Managers and administrators and relatively more 'blue collar' workers. More than half of the wage and salary earners in these regions were employed as either Tradespersons, Plant and machinery operators and drivers, or Labourers and related workers in 2000-01. These workers earned higher incomes than those working in the same occupations elsewhere in the state. Between 52.4% (Port Hedland) and 67.8% (Ashburton) of Tradespersons in these regions earned more than $52,000 in 2000-01, compared to 18.7% of all Tradespersons in the state. Over half of the Labourers and related workers in Coolgardie and East Pilbara earned over $52,000 in 2000-01, compared to the state average of 12.0%.
Among the ten SLAs with the highest average wage and salary incomes in Western Australia, Ashburton recorded the highest proportion of Plant and machinery operators and drivers (82.0%), Professionals (53.0%) and Managers and administrators (51.9%) earning in excess of $52,000 a year.
In 2000-01, the ten SLAs with the lowest average annual wage and salary income in Western Australia were located in the wheatbelt region of the state, where agriculture is the main industry of employment. Average wage and salary income in these regions ranged from $19,844 in Wickepin to $23,747 in Nungarin - well below the state average of $33,620. The low level of average wage and salary earnings in these regions reflects characteristics of the workforce, such as age, sex and occupation, the mix of full-time and part-time work and the high proportion of self-employed workers.
In four of these regions, the proportion of wage and salary earners aged 15-24 years was above the state average of 19.9%. These included Wickepin (21.0%), Broomehill (21.1%), Williams (21.7%) and Kent (22.9%). Of the wage and salary earners aged 15-24 years in Western Australia, 86.4% earned less than $31,200 and 36.2% earned less than $10,400 in 2000-01.
In 2000-01, Wickepin (53.9%) and Dumbleyung (50.7%) were two of five SLAs in Western Australia with more female wage and salary earners than male. Nungarin, Broomehill, Tammin, Jerramungup and Kondinin also had a high proportion of female employees - all above the state average of 46.3% - ranging from 46.5% in Kondinin to 50.0% in Nungarin. The high proportion of female employees in these regions may be a result of the large number of self-employed males, predominantly farmers, among the working age population. Large proportions of female wage and salary earners in these areas worked as Labourers and related workers. The 2001 Census of Population and Housing indicates that a significant number of these were agricultural labourers. In Western Australia, 50.4% of female workers are employed on a part-time basis, and these areas were no exception, with female part-time workers ranging from 39.9% in Dumbleyung to 55.7% in Tammin. As a consequence, these female workers earned relatively low annual incomes. Of the female wage and salary earners in Western Australia, 69.2% earned less than $31,200 and 19.9% earned less than $10,400 in 2000-01.
Furthermore, in the ten SLAs with the lowest average incomes, the proportion of wage and salary earners employed in the relatively low skilled occupation of Labourers and related workers was well above the state average of 11.2%. The proportion ranged from 22.1% in Jerramungup to 30.6% in Kent. Among Labourers and related workers in Western Australia, 64.1% earned less than $31,200 and 16.5% earned less than $10,400 in 2000-01.
CHANGE IN AVERAGE ANNUAL WAGE AND SALARY INCOME
Almost all (143) of the 150 SLAs in Western Australia recorded an increase in average annual wage and salary income from 1996-97 to 2000-01. Some of the largest increases were in Perth's more affluent suburbs along the central coast and north-western banks of the Swan River, including Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove, Claremont, Mosman Park and Subiaco. Increases in average incomes in these areas ranged from $8,318 in Subiaco to $9,416 in Cottesloe. These areas were also among the ten SLAs with the highest average incomes in the state in 2000-01.
SLAs WITH LARGEST AND FASTEST INCREASE IN AVERAGE WAGE AND SALARY INCOME, Western Australia: 1996-97 to 2000-01
In recent years, inner city Perth has seen an influx of highly paid wage and salary earners due to the increased availability and popularity of housing located near the Central Business District. The number of wage and salary earners in Perth - Inner increased by 120.5% between 1996-97 and 2000-01, with one in five (20.7%) working in a Professional occupation. In 2000-01, 44.3% of Professionals in Perth - Inner earned an annual income in excess of $52,000, compared to 21.9% in 1996-97. As a result, Perth - Inner recorded an increase of $8,455 (27.8%) in average wage and salary income over the period.
While large increases in wage and salary income occurred in many areas of metropolitan Perth between 1996-97 to 2000-01, the largest increases were reported for areas of the Kimberley in the state's far north. Average incomes in Halls Creek and Derby-West Kimberley increased by over $10,000 during this period. These increases may, however, partly reflect the exclusion of relatively low paid CDEP workers from ATO wage and salary statistics from 1998-99 onwards. Other areas with significant Indigenous populations such as Ngaanyatjarraku, Wyndham-East Kimberley and Broome may have been similarly affected.
The lowest growth in average annual wage and salary income between 1996-97 and 2000-01 occurred in the central goldfield and wheatbelt regions of Western Australia. The goldfield areas of Cue, Menzies and Yilgarn all recorded significant declines, ranging from $128 in Yilgarn to $3,049 in Cue, while Leonora recorded an increase in average wage and salary income of just $311. Decreased earnings in these areas coincided with depressed world gold prices in the late 1990s which in many cases led to mine closures, consolidation of existing operations and deferment of new projects.
SLAs WITH SMALLEST INCREASE (OR DECREASE) IN AVERAGE WAGE AND SALARY INCOME, Western Australia: 1996-97 to 2000-01
The wheat and sheep farming areas of Westonia, Wickepin and Kondinin also recorded decreases in average wage and salary income over the five years to 2000-01 - ranging from $13 in Kondinin to $2,283 in Westonia. Decreased earnings in these areas reflects the broader phenomenon of population decline in rural Western Australia, as people have relocated to more urbanised coastal centres with greater earnings potential. The decreases in average earnings in Westonia, Wickepin and Kondinin were associated with declines in the working age populations between 1996 and 2001 - 3.3%, 12.7% and 9.0% respectively. Diminishing wool production over the period and a large fall in wheat production in 2000-01, after five years of consistent growth, may also have had a negative impact on earnings in these regions.
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION OF "REGIONAL WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA"
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