Latest release

Average Weekly Earnings, Australia

Estimates of weekly earnings classified by industry, sector , state and territory

Reference period
May 2021
Released
19/08/2021
  • Next Release 24/02/2022
    Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, November 2021
  • Next Release 18/08/2022
    Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, May 2022
  • Next Release 23/02/2023
    Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, November 2022
  • View all releases

Key statistics

Estimates for average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time adults (seasonally adjusted):

  • Increased by 1.4% to $1,737.10 annually to May 2021.
  • Males: $1,996.60 (public), and $1,807.40 (private).
  • Females: $1,781.60 (public), and $1,490.70 (private).
 May 2021May 2020 to May 2021
$% change
Seasonally AdjustedFull-time adult ordinary time earnings (a)1,737.101.4
Full-time adult total earnings1,798.001.6
All employees total earnings (a)1,305.800.1
OriginalFull-time adult ordinary time earnings1,737.101.4
Full-time adult total earnings1,797.001.6
All employees total earnings1,305.800.1

(a) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Survey impacts and changes

COVID-19 impacts on average weekly earnings

The COVID-19 period has been unprecedented in the scale and speed of changes in the labour market. As various restrictions to control COVID-19 have been implemented, relaxed and lifted, employment and hours have changed considerably.

The May 2020 cycle of the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) collected data from businesses for the last pay period ending on or before 15 May 2020. At that stage, there were widespread social distancing and other business-related restrictions in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These restrictions led to a large decrease in the number of jobs, people employed and hours worked, with lower paid jobs and industries particularly impacted, including jobs in Accommodation and food services, Arts and recreation services, and Other services. The large-scale loss of lower paid jobs in these industries had the effect of increasing the value of average weekly earnings at the total economy level. The full-time adult average weekly earnings increased by 3.3 per cent biannually over this time. Annual percentage movements from May 2020 to May 2021 should be considered with this in mind.

By the November 2020 cycle, lower paid employment and hours had partly recovered, which resulted in a 0.1 per cent fall in average weekly earnings. While the recovery varied by industry and other factors, there was sufficient recovery at the lower end of the earnings distribution to put downward pressure on average earnings. In November, employment was 1.3 per cent below March 2020 (as per Labour Force, Australia estimates).

The May 2021 reference period (the last pay period ending on or before 21 May 2021) fell prior to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the eastern states. At the time, employment was 1.0 per cent above March 2020 and many restrictions had eased. The full-time adult average weekly earnings increased by 1.5 per cent between November 2020 and May 2021, reflecting the further shift towards a more typical earnings distribution and more usual six-monthly change in average earnings.

Continued suspension of trend estimates

Consistent with other ABS labour statistics, the AWE trend series have been suspended until more certainty emerges in the underlying trend in earnings estimates over the COVID-19 period. The reinstatement of AWE trend estimates will be reviewed for the November 2021 cycle. Spreadsheets containing seasonally adjusted and original data will continue to be published in the standard format, but trend spreadsheets will not be published during the COVID-19 period.

Seasonal adjustment

During the COVID-19 period, the ABS will use forward seasonal factors to produce some seasonally adjusted average weekly earnings estimates. Forward factor adjustments are generally better suited to managing large movements at the end point of a series and ensure that large movements do not have a disproportionate influence on the seasonal factors. The forward factor approach is not considered suitable for series with a non-seasonal span, and the concurrent adjustment method continued to be used for these series.

Prior to the release of the AWE May 2021 estimates, the ABS undertook a review of the seasonally adjusted AWE series. As part of this process, static forward factors have been calculated for the next 12 months taking effect from the May 2021 release.

For a more detailed discussion on the implications of unusual events on time series, see When it's not "business-as-usual": Implications for ABS Time Series

Survey responses remain high in May

Responses for the Average Weekly Earnings May 2021 cycle remained high. The ABS would like to thank the Australian business community for their continued support in responding to our surveys during such a difficult time, given how critically important this information is. 

Understanding compositional changes in earnings

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' Average Weekly Earnings survey is designed to measure the level of average earnings in Australia at a point in time. Movements in average weekly earnings can be affected by changes in both the level of earnings per employee and in the composition of the labour force. Factors which can contribute to compositional change include variation in the proportion of full-time, part-time, casual and junior employees; variation in the occupational distribution within and across industries; variation in the distribution of employment between industries; and variation in the distribution of hours worked and paid for.

It is also important to note that while Average Weekly Earnings data can be used to compare, at the very broad level, average earnings between males and females, such comparisons do not take into account a range of compositional differences. For example, differences in occupation or hours worked can contribute significantly to the differences observed between male and female earnings. Details of occupation and hours worked are not collected in the Average Weekly Earnings survey. For further comparisons between male and female wages, including hourly rates and by occupation, refer to Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia

For more information on compositional changes, see Spotlight: Increases in Average Weekly Earnings – compositional changes during the COVID-19 period

Australia

Average weekly earnings, seasonally adjusted
 May 2021May 2020 to May 2021
$% change
MalesFull-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings (a)1,837.001.4
Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,921.101.6
All employees average weekly total earnings (a)1,555.301.1
FemalesFull-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings (a)1,575.501.1
Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,597.801.3
All employees average weekly total earnings1,069.10-1.3
PersonsFull-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings (a)1,737.101.4
Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,798.001.6
All employees average weekly total earnings (a)1,305.800.1

(a) This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Average weekly earnings, original
 May 2021May 2020 to May 2021
$% change
MalesFull-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,837.001.4
Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,919.501.6
All employees average weekly total earnings1,555.301.1
FemalesFull-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,575.501.1
Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,598.601.4
All employees average weekly total earnings1,068.90-1.3
PersonsFull-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,737.101.4
Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,797.001.6
All employees average weekly total earnings1,305.800.1

Private and public sector

Average weekly earnings, by sector, original
 May 2021May 2020 to May 2021
$% change
AustraliaFull-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,737.101.4
Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,797.001.6
All employees average weekly total earnings1,305.800.1
Private SectorFull-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,699.101.5
Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,758.301.6
All employees average weekly total earnings1,242.40-0.1
Public SectorFull-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,880.201.7
Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,942.302.4
All employees average weekly total earnings1,591.002.3

Industry

State and territory

Cash earnings (includes salary sacrifice)

Data downloads

Note

The trend estimates have been suspended from May 2020 for all Average Weekly Earnings series due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labour market.

Australia

Data files

Sector

Data files

Industry

Data files

State and territory

Data files

State by sector

Data files

Cash earnings (includes salary sacrifice)

Data files

All May 2021 spreadsheets

Time series spreadsheets

Seasonality

Some of the seasonally adjusted series above do not display seasonality, so they are not seasonally adjusted.
In these cases the seasonally adjusted figure will be the same as the original series.
The file below lists the treatment of each of these series.

Seasonality guide

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6302.0.