This is not the latest release View the latest release

Average Weekly Earnings, Australia

Results of the Survey of Average Weekly Earnings containing estimates of earnings classified by industry, sector and state/territory

Reference period
November 2020
Released
25/02/2021

Key statistics

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

  • Increased by 3.2% to $1,711.60 annually to November 2020.
  • Males: $1,970.90 (public), and $1,770.30 (private).
  • Females: $1,762.00 (public), and $1,475.50 (private).

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.

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

Average weekly earnings, key figures, Australia, November 2020
 Nov 2020Nov 2019 to Nov 2020
$% change
Seasonally Adjusted  
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings(a)1,711.603.2
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,767.202.7
 All employees average weekly total earnings(a)1,280.301.9
Original   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,711.603.2
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,769.902.7
 All employees average weekly total earnings1,280.301.9

a. This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Survey impacts

COVID-19 impacts on AWE

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. 

By the November 2020 reference period (the last pay period ending on or before 20 November, 2020), most state and territory border restrictions had started to relax and restrictions around the country had eased significantly. The number of people employed in November was back to around 1 per cent below the March 2020 level when COVID-19 restrictions were first implemented (as per Labour Force, Australia estimates). The recovery in the labour market was widespread among all industries, however, the pace of recovery differed, with some industries still impacted by the continued restrictions on activity and travel. The jobs still impacted were mostly within the same lower paid industries noted above. These ongoing compositional shifts in the workforce contributed to the elevated levels of average weekly earnings in November 2020, despite subdued underlying wage growth (as per Wage Price Index, Australia). 

In addition to the compositional shift, a further factor in the elevated average weekly earnings was increased demand for specialist services, including information technology and health care workers. 

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 May 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. 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

Treatment of JobKeeper-supported earnings

Employee earnings that were supported by the JobKeeper wage subsidy (including those whose pay was entirely supported by the fortnightly JobKeeper payment) were in scope for the AWE survey. May and November 2020 estimates continue to reflect the longstanding measure of average employee earnings, and include a combination of earnings that were not supported by JobKeeper, that were partially supported by JobKeeper and that were entirely supported by JobKeeper. 

However, to ensure that the Full-time adult series continued to best reflect earnings for adults working full-time hours, adult employees who had a reduction from full-time hours and an accompanying change in earnings in the reference week (compared with the pre-COVID-19 period) were removed from the Full-time adult category. These employees were still included in the All employees series. The ABS worked closely with data providers to identify such employees, and to ensure that data best reflected their working arrangements.

Employees who are stood down without pay are out of scope for the AWE survey.

Survey responses remain high in November

Responses for the Average Weekly Earnings November 2020 quarter remained high, with similar levels of responses to previous cycles. 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. 

Australia

Average weekly earnings, Australia, seasonally adjusted, November 2020
 Nov 2020Nov 2019 to Nov 2020
$% change
Males   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings(a)1,804.203.0
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,882.802.4
 All employees average weekly total earnings(a)1,526.601.9
Females   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings(a)1,562.003.6
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,582.003.5
 All employees average weekly total earnings1,050.802.2
Persons   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings(a)1,711.603.2
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,767.202.7
 All employees average weekly total earnings(a)1,280.301.9

a. This component is not seasonally adjusted.

Average weekly earnings, Australia, original, November 2020
 Nov 2020Nov 2019 to Nov 2020
$% change
Males   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,804.203.0
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,886.002.4
 All employees average weekly total earnings1,526.601.9
Females   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,562.003.6
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,582.303.5
 All employees average weekly total earnings1,050.602.2
Persons   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,711.603.2
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,769.902.7
 All employees average weekly total earnings1,280.301.9

It is 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.

Private and public sector earnings

Average weekly earnings, by sector, original, November 2020
 Nov 2020Nov 2019 to Nov 2020
$% change
Australia   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,711.603.2
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,769.902.7
 All employees average weekly total earnings1,280.301.9
Private Sector   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,669.703.2
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,729.402.7
 All employees average weekly total earnings1,216.201.4
Public Sector   
 Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings1,863.702.8
 Full-time adult average weekly total earnings1,916.802.6
 All employees average weekly total earnings1,563.603.8

Industry earnings

State and territory earnings

Average weekly cash earnings

Tables in the other sections of this release relate exclusively to estimates of employee earnings excluding amounts salary sacrificed. This section includes information on Average Weekly Cash Earnings (AWCE), which provides estimates of employee earnings including amounts salary sacrificed.

Salary sacrifice is defined as an arrangement where an employee agrees to forgo part of his or her salary in return for benefits of a similar value. Common types of salary sacrifice arrangements include pre-tax contributions to superannuation funds and novated leases for motor vehicles.

Amounts salary sacrificed by an employee can be affected by a change in his or her earnings (for example, an increase in the level of overtime worked or commissions earned). Additionally, some employees sacrifice more of their salary at the beginning of the financial year and then the amount tapers off towards the end of the year when he or she has reached the concessional contributions cap for salary sacrificing superannuation. For other employees, the amount of salary sacrificed increases towards the end of the financial year to ensure the cap is reached. A feature article examining Salary Sacrifice arrangements of Australian employees was published in the November 2012 AWE release.

Data downloads

Time series spreadsheets

Data files

Data cubes

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 6302.0.