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Data on the level of earnings reflect the variations within different population groups, and across industries and occupations, providing a more detailed picture of their comparative experiences. Differences in earnings are also of interest in reflecting the strength of labour demand and supply.
As shown in table 6.43, the difference between male and female average weekly earnings was least for AWOTE (females earned 85% of the male figure of $910.50) and greatest for All employees total earnings (females earned 66% of the male figure of $823.30). The latter difference reflects the inclusion of part-time employees, as a greater proportion of female employees work part-time. In 2001-02, 45% of female employees worked part-time compared to 14% of male employees.
Table 6.44 displays the male and female average weekly ordinary-time earnings for full-time adults by state in February 2002. Males recorded higher average weekly earnings than females across all states, although the degree of difference between male and female earnings varied by state. The smallest difference between male and female earnings occurred in South Australia with females earning 89% of the corresponding male figure of $831.00, and the largest difference was in Western Australia with female earnings 79% of male earnings of $927.30.
The Mining industry recorded the largest average weekly ordinary-time earnings for full-time adults in February 2002 of $1,370.50. The industry with the lowest average was Retail trade, with earnings of $643.50, followed closely by Accommodation, cafes and restaurants ($669.30).
Earnings by industry followed similar trends for both males and females, although males earned more on average in every industry (graph 6.45). Full-time adult females earned approximately two-thirds of male full-time adult ordinary-time earnings in the Finance and insurance industry (66%), rising to approximately 91% in the Retail trade industry.
Data on average weekly earnings are also available from the biennial EEH survey. This survey provides additional classifications of the data, such as category of employee, type of earnings and occupation. Average weekly total earnings for full-time adult employees by occupation are presented in graph 6.46. For both males and females, Elementary clerical, sales and service workers earned the lowest average weekly earnings of all the occupations ($682 for males and $561 for females), whereas the highest earnings were for Managers and administrators ($1,356 for males and $1,146 for females).
Men had higher average earnings than women in each occupation. For full-time adult employees, the proportional difference between male and female average weekly total earnings was smallest for Managers and administrators (average earnings of females were 85% those of males) and greatest for Tradespersons and related workers (73%).
The earnings level of a worker is a function of the employer's demand for labour, the availability of suitably qualified workers in the labour market and the skill level of the individual worker. For many occupations, there is a relationship between average weekly earnings for full-time employees and the unemployment rate.
Graph 6.47 plots average weekly earnings for full-time employees against a scaled unemployment rate. In May 2000, it appeared that a low unemployment rate for an occupation tended to be associated with a higher level of average weekly earnings. Managers and administrators, Professionals and Associate professionals had the highest average weekly earnings and the lowest unemployment rates, while Tradespersons had lower wages and relatively high unemployment. However, this relationship does not always hold, for example, Intermediate production and transport workers had relatively high average weekly earnings ($761), yet also had the second highest unemployment rate (4.4%).