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REGIONAL VARIATIONS IN INCOME (SA2)
This section presents data on median total income (all sources) and income distribution. The proportion of high income recipients earning over $75,000 is explored - as well as those regions which have total income levels similar to that of Australia. Regions with less than 100 income earners have been excluded from the commentary.
MEDIAN TOTAL INCOME
For Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) regions across Australia in 2012-13, median total income ranged from $8,871 in the young (median age 23 years), primarily student based region of Acton (ACT) where 87.9% attended tertiary institutions (according to the 2011 Census), right up to $93,902 in the mining boom region of Ashburton (WA).
Of all SA2s in New South Wales (with over 100 earners) the highest median total income was recorded in Balmain ($72,591) followed by Lilyfield - Rozelle ($69,029). At the opposite end of the income scale, Sydney - Haymarket - The Rocks recorded the lowest median ($25,263). In Sydney – Haymarket – The Rocks, just 19.1% of people were born in Australia, according to 2011 Census data. Also, a large proportion of the population (41.2%) attended a tertiary or technical institution. Thus the presence of a student and temporary resident population may partly explain the lower median income in this SA2.
In Victoria the redeveloped SA2 of Port Melbourne recorded the highest median total income ($66,156), followed by Toorak ($65,753). The data story is quite different if we consider mean total income however. Toorak had a mean of $145,639, much higher than Port Melbourne's level ($93,116). The lowest median total income value was recorded by the SA2 of Avoca in the State's Central Highlands ($28,650).
Renowned for its coal mining activity, Moranbah led all SA2s in Queensland in terms of having the highest median total income ($80,945). Conversely, the SA2 of Kowanyama - Pormpuraaw in the State's far north, with a primarily Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, recorded the lowest State median ($24,816).
Walkerville SA2 in South Australia recorded the highest State median of $55,995. Also notable was the popular tourist destination of Kangaroo Island recording a low median at $29,945.
Apart from Ashburton, mentioned above, the SA2 of Port Headland was also prominent in terms of high median total income in Western Australia ($84,357). Conversely, the SA2 of Denmark, on the State's south coast, recorded a median total income value of $32,867. Located some 420 kilometres from Perth, Denmark is an emerging tourist destination with both coastal and wilderness features.
In Tasmania, the West Coast ($49,026) and West Hobart ($48,855) SA2s recorded the highest median total income values. Conversely, the SA2 of Forestier - Tasman recorded the lowest median ($29,563) in the State.
Woolner - Bayview - Winellie ($65,327) and Durack - Marlow Lagoon ($63,738), both within Greater Darwin, recorded the highest median values in the Northern Territory.
The SA2 of Forrest was prominent in terms of having the highest median total income within the ACT ($78,024), followed by Deakin ($73,857). Apart from Acton, mentioned above, ACT - East had the lowest median income in the ACT ($44,341).
HIGH MEDIAN TOTAL INCOME
Excluding SA2s in the Other Territories, there were 2,086 SA2s with 100 earners or more; of these, 1,193 SA2s were located in greater capital city regions and 893 in the rest of state.
Of all SA2s (with 100 or more earners) in capital city regions, 67.2% recorded a median total income above the Australian value ($44,940), while the corresponding level for SA2s in rest of state regions was considerably lower at 23.1% (see Graph 1).
However, 53.4% of SA2s in the rest of Western Australia recorded high median total income levels - the highest proportion for any rest of state region, across Australia.
Interestingly, 100% of SA2s with more than one hundred income earners in Darwin recorded high median total income levels. The Northern Territory also had the second highest 'rest of state/territory' proportion with 45.8% of SA2s reporting high median total income levels. Please note that median total income has been calculated on the total income (excluding Government pensions and allowances) of individuals who submitted a tax return for the 2012-13 financial year; it excludes some low income earners and those wholly reliant on Government pension and allowance payments. Excluding these lower earners can impact on some SA2 median values more than others; hence the regional estimates should be interpreted with care. For more background, please access the regional counts of pension recipients in Data by Region.
The graph also shows a more pronounced capital city/rest of state gap in median total income terms, for South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.
Footnote(s): (a) High median total income is defined as greater than Australia's median of $44,940 (b) Excludes SA2s with less than 100 earners
Source(s): EoPI graph data
HIGH INCOME EARNERS
The quartile ranges rank all income earners in ascending order by total income and separate them into four equally sized groups (i.e. with 25% of the total population in each quartile). For ATO sourced data, for Australia in 2012-13, the top quartile comprised people who earned $75,000 or more. Hence a threshold of $75,000 has been used to describe a 'high income earner' in this publication, for total income. Where a region has more than 25% of its income earners receiving over this amount, it is said to have a larger proportion of high income earners than the national level (25%).
Graph 2 below shows that SA2s in capital city regions were more likely to have a higher proportion of income recipients earning over $75,000, with some notable exceptions. Ashburton in the rest of WA topped the national list with 57.7% of its earners receiving over $75,000, followed by Port Hedland (rest of WA) and Roxby Downs (rest of SA) with 54.7% and 54.1% respectively. The presence of high income earners in Ashburton is also supported by Census 2011 data which shows that just 6.6% of its households received a weekly household income of less than $600 while 32.5% of households received a weekly income of more than $3,000.
Of all SA2s in Australia's capital city regions, North Coogee in Greater Perth had the highest proportion of high income earners - with 52.5% of its 928 earners reporting above $75,000.
In the ACT, 94.9% of all SA2s had over 25% of earners in the high total income category. Most prominent in this regard was Forrest, where 52.0% of earners earned above $75,000. This was also the second highest level for any capital city region, after North Coogee in Greater Perth.
Deakin, Kingston - Barton, Red Hill (ACT), ACT - South West, O'Malley, Griffith (ACT), Yarralumla and Forde in the ACT all had over 45% of earners receiving above the $75,000 level.
Balmain SA2 had the highest proportion of high income earners in Greater Sydney, with 48.2% of its 10,385 earners receiving above $75,000. Mosman was ranked second highest within Greater Sydney, with 46.3% of its 18,930 earners reporting above $75,000.
Footnote(s): (a) High total income is defined as greater than $75,000 (b) Excludes SA2s with less than 100 earners
Source(s): EoPI graph data
Certain SA2 regions demonstrated low levels of earners receiving over $75,000. Ravenswood in Tasmania had the lowest proportion of earners in this category - at just 5.3% - compared with 25.0% of earners for all of Australia. Ravenswood also had a moderate median total income at $34,328 and a very similar mean income at $35,241. This suggests a relatively homogenous region in income terms. Census 2011 data shows a similar story for Ravenswood; 48.1% of households had a weekly household income of less than $600 and 0.8% of households had a weekly income of more than $3,000.
From another perspective, 25.6% of people in Ravenswood were earning between $44,941 and $74,999, slightly higher than the Australian level (25.0%) for this income range. Elizabeth in South Australia recorded a similar result with just 6.7% of people earning over $75,000 but 28.2% of people earning between $44,941 and $74,999 (again higher than the national level).
Some other results of note: the Inverell Region - East SA2 had the lowest proportion of earners earning more than $75,000 in NSW, with only 8.7%.
In Greater Sydney, the SA2 of Auburn had the lowest proportion of high income earners, with just 9.8% of its 14,612 earners receiving above $75,000 for total income. This region also recorded the largest proportion of earners in Sydney earning under or equal to the Australian median, with 68.3% of earners receiving less than $44,941.
In Greater Melbourne, Doveton recorded the lowest proportion of high income earners, at just 7.4%. However, this SA2 region still had a moderate percentage of earners (36.1%) making over $44,941 - above the national median for total income ($44,940).
Map 1. PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL INCOME CONTRIBUTED BY TOP 10% OF EARNERS, by SA2, Australia, 2012-13
It can be useful to 'zoom in' on SA2s within sub-state regions (such as Greater Sydney), to bring the income characteristics of these physically smaller (in land area terms) but nonetheless populous regions into sharper focus.
In Greater Sydney in 2012-13, the SA2 with the highest percentage of total income earned by its top 10% of earners was Rose Bay - Vaucluse - Watsons Bay with 57.5%. Double Bay - Bellevue Hill was second most prominent, with 55.2% of total income being earned by the top 10% of its tax form lodgers.
Regional levels ranged down to 22.1% (of total income received by the top 10% of earners) in Glendenning Dean Park, which also had a median total income ($47,926) that exceeded Australia's median ($44,940). Located around 45 kilometres west of inner Sydney, Glendenning Dean Park has a high proportion of family households (88.2%) and of owner occupied dwellings with a mortgage (59.1%).
Map 2. PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL INCOME CONTRIBUTED BY TOP 10% OF EARNERS, by SA2, Greater Sydney GCCSA, 2012-13
Map 3 shows the Gini coefficient for total income (excluding Government pensions and allowances) for all SA2s in Australia. The Gini coefficient is a single statistic with a value that lies between 0 and 1. In this publication, it reflects the degree of income inequality for people who lodged tax forms, usually by their region of residence. Coefficient values closer to 1 indicate greater inequality. Note: due to some income exclusions and partial data coverage, this data should be interpreted with care. See the Explanatory Notes, paragraph 16 for more information.
Some regions showed particularly interesting results. For example, the mining region of Weipa in Queensland had a low Gini coefficient of 0.349 but also had one of the highest percentages (52.5%) of earners in the highest (or fourth) income quartile (earning over $75,000), with just 11.4% of earners in the bottom quartile (earning less than $21,400). Weipa also had a high median total income at $78,608 and a high mean income at $80,509. This was a smaller gap (between mean and median levels) than observed for most other SA2 regions. This suggests that Weipa has a less skewed distribution for total income, but higher levels of income overall, than Australia. The presence of bauxite mining may have contributed to Weipa's relatively homogenous income result; 2011 Census data confirms that mining was the main employing industry in the region (37.1%). There have also been training programs introduced to increase the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (who comprise 18.6% of Weipa's population) in the mining industry. Such factors may partly explain the relatively equal distribution observed for all income earners in the region.
Conversely, the region of Petermann - Simpson in the Northern Territory, which also had a low Gini coefficient of 0.351, had a much lower median income ($39,906) than Weipa and only had 10.7% of earners in the highest quartile earning over $75,000. This indicates that Petermann - Simpson also had a less skewed distribution for total income than Australia - but contrary to what was observed for Weipa - it had more earners earning less, with 60.4% earning below or equal to Australia's median total income of $44,940. From another perspective, only 654 income earners were recorded in Petermann - Simpson, compared with an estimated resident population at June 2014 of 2,170 persons aged over 15 years. This indicates the strong presence of Government pension and allowance recipients and low income earners (who are not required to lodge tax returns). Therefore the results should be interpreted with care. For more background, please access the regional counts of pension recipients in Data by Region.
Map 3. GINI COEFFICIENT, by SA2, Australia, 2012-13
REGIONS SIMILAR TO AUSTRALIA
Some SA2s across Australia had similar income characteristics to those observed for Australia. For example, Berwick - North in Victoria, West Beach in South Australia and Bellerive - Rosny in Tasmania recorded a median total income within just a few hundred dollars of Australia's median.
Furthermore, these regions had similarities with Australia for other income indicators. For example, Berwick - North had similar percentile ratios (P20/P50 of 0.39 for Berwick - North, 0.39 for Australia) and Gini coefficients (0.472 for Berwick-North, 0.480 Australia). The median investment income values were reasonably similar ($432 for Berwick- North compared with $364 for Australia) while both regions shared the same median age (47 years) for people earning income from their own unincorporated businesses.
The graphs below show some of the the similarities in total income and employee income for these regions when compared with Australia.
Source(s): EoPI graph data
Graph 4 shows similarities in the share of income contributed by the top 10%, 5% and 1% of total income earners in these regions.
Source(s): EoPI graph data
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