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Labour Costs, Australia

Estimates main labour costs incurred by employers, including employee earnings, superannuation, workers' compensation, payroll and fringe benefits tax

Reference period
2015-16 financial year

Key statistics

  • Total labour costs incurred by employers were $760.9 billion. 
  • Employee earnings accounted for 87.3% of total labour costs.
  • Private and public sector labour costs accounted for 77.7% and 22.3% of labour costs for all employers respectively.

Summary of findings

The key findings from the Major Labour Costs survey conducted in respect of the 2015-16 financial year are presented below.

Total labour costs incurred by employers during 2015-16 were $760.9 billion. Employee earnings accounted for 87.3% of total labour costs. Superannuation was the next largest component of total labour costs at 8.0%.

 EarningsSuperannuationPayroll TaxWorkers' CompensationFringe Benefits TaxTotal Labour Costs
Private Sector517,259.645,015.918,336.48,148.52,598.5591,359.0
Public Sector147,296.515,872.23,501.92,490.7420.4169,581.7

1. Major labour costs, sector, 2015-16

Total labour costs for the private sector accounted for 77.7% of the labour costs for all employers. Total labour costs for the public sector were 22.3% of the labour costs for all employers. Public sector organisations include Commonwealth and state/territory government organisations, local government authorities, public corporations, universities, non-profit institutions controlled by the government, government marketing boards, legislative courts, municipal authorities and other statutory authorities.

 EarningsSuperannuationPayroll TaxWorkers' CompensationFringe Benefits TaxTotal Labour Costs
New South Wales219,074.219,468.37,546.53,654.31,072.2250,815.4
South Australia40,326.83,760.31,079.7891.3128.146,186.1
Western Australia88,992.17,838.93,302.01,317.0449.1101,899.1
Northern Territory7,941.7729.5283.8132.448.99,136.2
Australian Capital Territory17,430.32,196.7390.8363.081.620,462.4

2. Major labour costs, states and territories, 2015-16


Earnings, which includes gross wages and salaries, the ungrossed value of fringe benefits, and severance, termination and redundancy payments, is the largest component of labour costs. During 2015-16, earnings totalled $664.6 billion (87.3% of total labour costs).


The value of employer superannuation contributions paid on behalf of employees in Australia was $60.9 billion, or 8.0% of total labour costs.

When comparing across states and territories, the Australian Capital Territory had the highest superannuation costs as a proportion of total labour costs (10.7%). The Australian Capital Territory has a larger proportion of Commonwealth employees, many of whom receive higher superannuation entitlements.

Payroll tax

Payroll tax paid by employers totalled $21.8 billion, representing 2.9% of total labour costs. The private sector accounted for 84.0% of total payroll tax, and the public sector 16.0%.

As a proportion of total labour costs, payroll tax was highest in Western Australia (3.2%) and lowest in the Australian Capital Territory (1.9%).

Workers' compensation

Workers' compensation costs during 2015-16 were $10.6 billion, representing 1.4% of total labour costs.

As a proportion of total labour costs, workers' compensation costs were highest in South Australia (1.9%) and lowest in Queensland (1.2%).

Fringe benefits tax

Fringe benefits tax paid by employers during 2015-16 totalled $3.0 billion, representing 0.4% of total labour costs.

Fringe benefits tax as a proportion of total labour costs ranged from 0.2% in Tasmania to 0.5% in the Northern Territory.

Data downloads

Labour costs

History of changes

Show all

28/08/2017 - Datacube for the 2015-16 financial year added to this issue.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6348.0.