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Personal Income of Migrants, Australia

Statistics on personal income of migrants including employee income, own unincorporated business income, investment income and other income

Reference period
2016-17

Key statistics

  • Migrant taxpayers generated $112 billion in total personal income.
  • About 91% of total income was employee income ($102 billion).
  • Over half (61%) of migrant taxpayers held a skilled visa.
  • Skilled migrants generated 72% of the total income earned by migrants.

Migrant taxpayers 2016-17

Migrant taxpayers by visa stream

  • 61% of migrant taxpayers held a skilled visa (37% were primary applicants)
  • 28% held a family visa (25% were primary applicants)
  • 5.7% held a provisional visa (4.8% were primary applicants)
  • 5.1% held a humanitarian visa (2.6% were primary applicants)
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Total income of migrant taxpayers

Migrant taxpayers generated $112 billion in total personal income in 2016-17, an increase on total migrant income of 7.0% on 2015-16

  • $81 billion (72%) of total migrant income was reported by skilled migrants
  • $25 billion (23%) of total migrant income was reported by family migrants
  • $3.4 billion (3.0%) of total migrant income was reported by humanitarian migrants

     
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  1. Excludes income from Government pensions and allowances.

Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Table 1 - Migrant taxpayers, total income by visa stream, 2015-16 and 2016-17

 2015-162016-17
 Persons Total income(a)(b)Median income (a)Persons Total income(b)Median incomeChange in total income 2015-16 to 2016-17
 No.%$ million%$No.%$ million%$%
Skill
       1,106,594
61.2
      76,474.0
72.9
         55,248
1,160,089
61.0
80,906.3
72.0
55,904
5.8
Family
          498,502
27.6
      23,497.1
22.4
         36,977
534,150
28.1
25,293.2
22.5
37,413
7.6
Humanitarian
            88,996
4.9
        3,093.4
2.9
         29,806
96,451
5.1
3,399.2
3.0
30,365
9.9
Other permanent
              1,040
0.1
             59.2
0.1
         47,977
1,031
0.1
57.9
0.1
49,383
2.2
Provisional
            82,778
4.6
        1,817.9
1.7
         18,481
109,249
5.7
2,671.6
2.4
20,800
47.0
Total (c)
       1,777,906
100.0
    104,943.5
100.0
         45,587
1,900,979
100.0
112,326.5
100.0
45,772
7.0
a. In real terms, i.e. income amounts for 2015-16 are in 2016-17 dollars, adjusted using changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
b. Excludes Government pensions and allowances.
c. Includes Visa stream "Unknown".
Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset 2015-16 and 2016-17
 


In 2016-17, of the total income generated by migrants:

  • 91% was employee income ($102 billion), a 7.0% increase on 2015-16
  • $6.3 billion (5.6%) was own unincorporated business income
  • $3.1 billion (2.8%) was investment income
     

Compared with the other visa streams:

  • Skilled migrants reported the highest proportion of employee income at 92%
  • Humanitarian migrants reported the highest proportion of own unincorporated business income at 13%
  • Family migrants reported the highest proportion of investment income at 4.5%

     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

In 2016-17 there were 2 million migrant taxpayers, an increase of 6.9% on 2015-16.

1.7 million migrant taxpayers (87%) reported employee income, of these:

  • 62% were skilled migrants
  • 27% were family migrants
  • 4.8% were humanitarian migrants
     

1.2 million migrant taxpayers (61%) reported investment income, of these:

  • 66% were skilled migrants
  • 26% were family migrants
  • 3.0% were humanitarian migrants
     

270,000 migrant taxpayers (14%) reported own unincorporated business income, of these:

  • 56% were skilled migrants
  • 30% were family migrants
  • 8.5% were humanitarian migrants
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17

Migrant taxpayers median employee income

Median employee income by age group shows that:

  • for all age groups, male employees generally had higher median employee incomes than female employees in 2016-17
  • male employees aged 45 to 54 years had the highest median income of migrant taxpayers at $78,840
  • both males and females aged 15 to 17 years had the lowest median employee income at $5,066 and $4,940 respectively
  • for female employees, those aged 45 to 54 years had the highest median employee income at $49,223
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

For median employee income by visa stream:

  • skilled male employees aged 45 to 54 years had the highest median employee income of migrant taxpayers at $88,530
  • male employees aged 15 to 17 years of age with a provisional visa had the lowest median employee income of migrant taxpayers at $4,442
  • skilled female employees aged 45 to 54 years had the highest median employee income of female employees at $57,350
  • humanitarian female employees aged 15 to 17 years had the lowest median employee income of female employees at $4,596
     

For both male and female migrant taxpayers, the highest median employee income was reported by Professionals at $92,606 and $69,661 respectively.

Note: Many inter-related factors are known to influence and explain the observed differences in earnings between males and females. These factors include differing rates of labour market participation, variations in hours worked, occupations, forms of employment and working arrangements. (ABS 2014).

Migrant taxpayers by the top five countries of birth

Migrants from the five most common countries of birth made up over half of migrant taxpayers and together generated 54% ($60 billion) of total income:

  • 19% United Kingdom ($21 billion)
  • 16% India ($18 billion)
  • 8.0% China ($9.0 billion)
  • 5.7% South Africa ($6.4 billion)
  • 5.1% Philippines ($5.7 billion)
     

Migrant taxpayers born in the United Kingdom and South Africa reported higher proportions of investment income relative to their population size than migrants from the other top five countries of birth:

  • 13% of migrant taxpayers born in the United Kingdom reported 25% of total investment income ($781 million)
  • 4.2% of migrant taxpayers born in South Africa reported 11% of total investment income ($343 million)

     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Median employee income by period of residence

Median employee income of migrant taxpayers with one year of residence:

  • $53,999 for skilled migrants
  • $27,406 for family migrants
  • $12,129 for humanitarian migrants
     

Median employee income of migrant taxpayers with four years of residence:

  • $59,800 for skilled migrants
  • $39,000 for family migrants
  • $30,976 for humanitarian migrants
     

Median employee income of migrant taxpayers with ten or more years of residence:

  • $62,969 for skilled migrants
  • $48,802 for family migrants
  • $35,956 for humanitarian migrants
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Skilled migrants

Total personal income

In 2016-17 there were 1.1 million skilled migrants, representing 61% of all migrant taxpayers.

Skill stream migrant taxpayers generated $81 billion in total income. Of these skilled migrants:

  • 55% were males who reported $52 billion (65%) of total skilled migrant income
  • 45% were females who reported $29 billion (35%) of total skilled migrant income
  • 52% held a skilled visa that was granted offshore
  • 71% were aged 25 to 44 years of age
     

Table 2 - Skilled migrant taxpayers, by type of income, 2016-17

 EmployeeBusinessInvestmentOther income(a)(b)Total income(b)
Persons (No.)
1,036,487
151,737
770,176
49,972
1,160,089
Total income ($ m)
74,544.0
3,935.9
1,889.3
533.5
80,906.3
Median income ($)
59,304
10,256
87
1,096
55,904
a. Includes Superannuation and annuities income.
b. Excludes Government pensions and allowances.
Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset 2015-16 and 2016-17
 


Skilled migrant taxpayers mainly held the following visas:

  • 23.9% held Regional Skilled Independent and Skilled Independent visas (Subclasses 136 and 189)
  • 22.8% held Skilled Employer Nomination and Employer Nomination visas (Subclasses 186 and 856)
     

Skill stream migrants were most commonly born in the following countries:

  • India (20%)
  • United Kingdom (15%)
  • China (13%)
     

Skilled migrants born in the United Kingdom reported the highest proportion of total skilled migrant total income at 20% ($16 billion), followed by China with 19% ($15 billion).

Employee income and occupation of skilled migrant taxpayers

In 2016-17, skilled migrant taxpayers:

  • earned $75 billion in employee income
  • reported $48 billion (65%) by male employees and $26 billion (35%) by female employees
  • who were born in the United Kingdom reported $14 billion (19%) of skilled employee income
     

Median employee income of skilled migrant taxpayers

In 2016-17, skilled migrant taxpayers:

  • had median employee income of $59,304
  • aged 45 years to 54 years of age had the highest median employee income of skilled migrants at $73,863
  • born in Ireland recorded the highest median employee income with $82,865, consistent with 32% being Professionals
     

For all age groups, skilled male migrant taxpayers generally had higher median employee incomes than skilled females.

In 2016-17:

  • skilled males aged 45 to 54 years had the highest median employee income of migrant taxpayers at $88,530
  • skilled females aged 45 to 54 years had the highest median employee income of skilled females at $57,350
  • skilled females aged 15 to 17 years had the second lowest median employee income at $4,848
     

Note: Many inter-related factors are known to influence and explain the observed differences in earnings between males and females. These factors include differing rates of labour market participation, variations in hours worked, occupations, forms of employment and working arrangements. (ABS 2014).

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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Occupations of skilled migrant taxpayers

Skilled migrants were most commonly employed in the following broad occupation groups:

  • 35% Professionals (19% males, 16% females)
  • 13% Managers (8.4% of males, 4.7% females)
  • 11% Technicians and Trades Workers (9.5% males, 1.9% females)
  • 10% Clerical and Administrative Workers (3.2% males, 6.7% females)
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

The most commonly held more detailed occupations of skilled employees were:

  • Business and Systems Analysts, and Programmers (5.1% of skilled employees) reporting $5.1 billion in employee income
  • Midwifery and Nursing Professionals (5.1% of skilled employees) reporting $4.6 billion in employee income
  • Accountants, Auditors and Company Secretaries (4.4% of skilled employees) reporting $3.6 billion in employee income
  • Engineering Professionals (3.7% of skilled employees) reporting $4.2 billion in employee income
     

Highest median employee incomes of skilled migrant taxpayers were for the following more detailed occupations:

  • Medical practitioners ($148,357)
  • ICT Managers ($117,502)
  • Stationary Plant Operators ($106,659)
  • Construction, Distribution and Production Managers ($105,501)
     

Business income of skilled migrant taxpayers

Skilled migrant taxpayers represented 56% of migrant taxpayers who reported own unincorporated business income in 2016-17.

These skilled migrants:

  • reported $3,9 billion (63%) of the total business income of migrant taxpayers
  • aged 35 to 44 years reported the highest proportion of business income of skilled migrant taxpayers at 42% ($1.7 billion)
  • were more commonly males who reported $2.8 billion (72%) of skilled business income
  • had a median own unincorporated business income of $10,256
     

Skilled migrants employed in the following industries contributed the most to skilled own unincorporated business income:

  • Health Care and Social Assistance industry (40% or $1.6 billion)
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services industry (13% or $522 million)
  • Construction (9.6% or $377 million)
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Investment income of skilled migrant taxpayers

Skilled migrant taxpayers represented 66% of migrant taxpayers who reported investment income In 2016-17.

These skilled migrant investors:

  • reported $1.9 billion (61%) of the total investment income reported by migrant taxpayers
  • were more commonly aged 25 to 34 years (38% of skilled migrant investors)
  • had a median investment income of $87
     

Males reported $969 million (51%) and females $919 million (49%) of skilled investment income. Of these:

  • females aged 55 years and over reported the highest median investment income of $597
  • males aged 55 years and over reported the second highest median investment income of $302
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Family migrants

Total personal income

In 2016-17 there were about 534,000 family migrants, representing 28% of all migrant taxpayers.

Family migrant taxpayers generated $25 billion in total income. Of these:

  • 40% were males and 60% were females who both reported $13 billion (50%) of total family migrants' income respectively
  • 63% held a family visa that was granted offshore
  • 39% were aged 25 to 34 years of age
     

Table 3 - Family migrant taxpayers, by source of income, 2016-17

 EmployeeBusinessInvestmentOther income(a)(b)Total income(b)
Persons (No.)
445781
80,263
305,182
26,697
534,150
Total income ($ m)
22,028.7
1,719.0
1,149.1
394.0
25,293.2
Median income ($)
40,747
14,039
87
4,775
37,413
a. Includes Superannuation and annuities income.
b. Excludes Government pensions and allowances.
Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 


Family migrant taxpayers mainly held the following visas:

  • 88% held a spouse or fiancée visa
  • 6.0% held a parent visa
  • 3.1% held an other family visa
  • 2.7% held a child visa
     

Family stream migrants were most commonly born in the following countries:

  • United Kingdom (13%)
  • China (12%)
  • India 8.4%
     

Family migrants from the United Kingdom reported the highest proportion of family migrant total income at 20% ($5.0 billion), followed by China with 8.0% ($2.0 billion).

Employee income and occupation of family migrant taxpayers

In 2016-17, family migrant taxpayers:

  • earned $22 billion in employee income
  • reported $11 billion (50%) in employee income for both males and females
  • who were born in the United Kingdom recorded the highest proportion of family employee income with $4.3 billion (20%)
     

Median employee income of family migrant taxpayers

In terms of median employee income in 2016-17:
 
  • family migrant taxpayers had median employee income of $40,747
  • family migrants aged 35 to 44 years had the highest median family employee income of all age groups at $49,229
  • male family migrants aged 35 to 44 years had higher median income at $65,811 than their female counterparts ($39,731)
  • family migrants who were born in the United Kingdom recorded the highest median employee income by country of birth at $61,116, consistent with 25% being Professionals
     

Note: Many inter-related factors are known to influence and explain the observed differences in earnings between males and females. These factors include differing rates of labour market participation, variations in hours worked, occupations, forms of employment and working arrangements. (ABS 2014).

Occupations of family migrant taxpayers

Family migrant taxpayers were most commonly employed in the following broad occupation groups, with a higher proportion of females than males:

  • 17% were Professionals (11% females, 6.4% males)
  • 15% were Community and Personal Service Workers (12% females, 3.3% males)
  • 14% were Labourers (7.9% females, 6.4% males)
  • 12% were Clerical and Administrative Workers (9.9% females, 2.5% males)
     

By contrast:

  • more males than females were employed as Technicians and Trades Workers (males 6.1%, females 2.3%)
  • similar proportions of females and males were employed in managerial positions (5.5% females, 5.4% males)
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

The most commonly held more detailed occupations of family stream employees were:

  • Personal Carers and Assistants (4.2% of family employees) reporting $792 million in employee income
  • Sales Assistants and Salespersons (4.0% of family employees) reporting $564 million in employee income
  • Hospitality Workers (17,962 people or 4.0% of family employees) reporting $507 million in employee income
  • Cleaners and Laundry Workers (4.0% of family employees) reporting $544 million in employee income
     

Highest median employee incomes of family stream employees were for the following more detailed occupations:

  • Medical practitioners ($127,708)
  • ICT Managers ($112,870)
  • Stationary Plant Operators ($88,401)
  • Engineering Professionals ($88,058)
     

Business income of family migrant taxpayers

Family migrant taxpayers represented 30% of migrant taxpayers who reported own unincorporated business income in 2016-17.

Family migrant taxpayers:

  • reported $1.7 billion (27%) of the total business income of migrant taxpayers
  • aged 35 to 44 years reported the highest proportion of business income of family migrant taxpayers at 39% ($676 million)
  • who were male reported $1.0 billion (59%) of family business income compared with $698 million (41%) reported by females
  • had a median own unincorporated business income of $14,039
     

Family migrants employed in the following industries contributed the most to family own unincorporated business income:

  • Health Care and Social Assistance (21% or $362 million)
  • Construction (19% or $330 million)
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (11% or $192 million)
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Investment income of family migrant taxpayers

Family migrant taxpayers represented 26% of migrant taxpayers who reported investment income in 2016-17.

These family migrant investors:

  • reported $1.1 billion (37%) of the total investment income reported by migrant taxpayers
  • were most commonly aged 25 to 34 years (38% of family migrant investors)
  • had a median investment income of $87
     

Female family migrants:

  • reported 67% ($768 million) of family migrants' investment income, more than double that of males who reported 33% ($381 million)
  • aged 35 to 44 years reported 25% ($284 million) of family migrants' investment income
  • aged 55 years and over reported the highest median investment income of family migrant taxpayers by age group at $1,104
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Humanitarian migrants

Total personal income

In 2016-17 there were 96,500 humanitarian migrants, representing 5.1% of all migrant taxpayers.

Humanitarian migrant taxpayers generated $3.4 billion (3.0%) in total income and had a median total income of $30,365.

Of these humanitarian migrants:

  • 67% were males who reported $2.4 billion (71%) of total humanitarian migrant income
  • 33% were females who reported $984 million (28.9%) of total humanitarian migrant income
  • Over two-thirds (68.7%) of these humanitarian migrant visas were granted offshore
  • 34% were aged 25 to 34 years of age
  • Sri Lankan born taxpayers had the highest median total income by country of birth at $45,107
     

Table 4 - Humanitarian migrant taxpayers, by type of income, 2016-17

 EmployeeBusinessInvestmentOther income(a)(b)Total income(b)
Persons (No.)
79,213
22,904
35.337
2.095
96,451
Total income ($ m)
2,886.4
452.0
39.4
24.1
3,399.2
Median income ($)
32,792
16,852
40
931
30,365
a. Includes Superannuation and annuities income.
b. Excludes Government pensions and allowances.
Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 


Humanitarian migrant taxpayers mainly held the following visas:

  • 32% Refugee visas (Subclass 200)
  • 31% Global Special Humanitarian (Subclass 202)
     

Humanitarian migrants were most commonly born in the following countries:

  • 15% were born in Afghanistan
  • 13% were born in the Sudan
  • 12% were born in Iraq
     

Humanitarian migrants born in Afghanistan reported the highest proportion of humanitarian migrant total income at 14% ($486 million), followed by the Sudan with 13% ($445 million).

Employee income and occupation of humanitarian migrants

In 2016-17, humanitarian migrant taxpayers:

  • earned $2.9 billion in employee income
  • reported $2.0 billion (70%) by male employees and $865 million (30%) by female employees
  • who were born in the Sudan reported $401.2 million (14%) of humanitarian employee income, the highest proportion by country of birth
     

Median employee income of humanitarian migrants

Humanitarian females generally had lower median incomes than males, except for those aged 55 years and over ($37,061 for females, $36,478 for males):

  • Humanitarian migrant taxpayers had a median employee income of $32,792
  • Males aged 35 to 44 years had the highest humanitarian median employee income at $43,056
  • Humanitarian migrants who were born in Sri Lanka recorded the highest humanitarian median employee income by country of birth at $47,742
     

Occupations of humanitarian migrant taxpayers

Humanitarian migrant taxpayers were most commonly employed in the following broad occupation groups:

  • 27% Labourers (20% males, 6.8% females)
  • 14% Community and Personal Service Workers (8.1% females, 5.8% males)
  • 11% Technicians and Trades Workers (9.8% males, 1.0% females)
  • 9.4% Professionals (4.7% females, 4.7% males)
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17


The most commonly held more detailed occupations of humanitarian employees were:

  • Cleaners and Laundry Workers (6.1% of humanitarian employees) who earned $151.6 million in employee income
  • Personal Carers and Assistants (5.7% of humanitarian employees) who earned $209.7 million in employee income
  • Food Process Workers (5.2% of humanitarian employees) who earned $158.3 million in employee income
  • Sales Assistants and Salespersons (3.2% of humanitarian employees) who earned $70.4 million in employee income
     

The highest median employee incomes of humanitarian migrant taxpayers were for the following more detailed occupations:

  • Medical Practitioners ($111,873)
  • ICT Managers ($92,229)
  • Defence force members, fire fighters and police ($75,267)
  • Business and Systems Analysts, and Programmers ($67,352)
     

Business income of humanitarian migrant taxpayers

Humanitarian migrant taxpayers represented 8.0% of migrant taxpayers who reported own unincorporated business income in 2016-17.

Humanitarian migrant taxpayers:

  • reported $452 million was reported (7.2%) of the total business income of migrant taxpayers
  • aged 25 to 34 years reported the highest proportion of humanitarian business income by age with 33% ($150 million)
  • who were male reported $357 million (79%) of humanitarian business income compared with $95.3 million (21%) reported by females
  • had the highest median business income at $16,852, compared with migrant taxpayers from the other visa streams
     

Humanitarian migrants employed in the following industries contributed the most to humanitarian own unincorporated business income:

  • Construction (44% or $ 200 million)
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (20% or $91 million)
  • Transport, Postal and Warehousing (12% or $54 million)
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Investment income of humanitarian migrant taxpayers

Humanitarian migrant taxpayers represented 3% of migrant taxpayers who reported investment income in 2016-17.

These humanitarian migrant investors:

  • reported $39 million (1.3%) of the total investment income of migrant taxpayers
  • who were males reported 53% ($21 million) of humanitarian investment income, compared with 45% ($18 million) reported by females
  • had a median investment income of $40
     

Of these humanitarian migrants by age group:

  • females aged 18 to 24 years reported the highest proportion of humanitarian investment income at 23% ($9.1 million)
  • males aged 45 to 54 years reported the second highest proportion of humanitarian investment income at 18% ($7.3 million)
  • females aged 55 years and over reported the highest median humanitarian investment income at $107, followed by their male counterparts with $72
     
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Source: Personal Income Tax and Migrants Integrated Dataset, 2016-17
 

Reference

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2014), Australian Labour Market Statistics, July 2014 (cat. no. 6105.0), Understanding Earnings in Australia Using ABS Statistics, Canberra. Viewed at https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/6105.0Feature%20Article55July%202014?opendocument&tabname=Summary∏no=6105.0&issue=July%202014νm=&view=

About this data

  • A migrant taxpayer is a person aged 15 years and over, who migrated to Australia under a permanent or provisional visa after 1 January 2000 and submitted a tax return for the 2016-17 financial year.
  • Business income refers to own unincorporated business income. See the glossary for further details.
  • Income amounts for the 2015-16 financial year are noted in real terms (in 2016-17 dollars) and adjusted using changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
     

Data downloads

Personal income of migrants, Australia, 2016-17

Personal income of migrants, Australia, 2015-16

Personal income of migrants, Australia, 2014-15

Data item list

History of changes

Show all

10/02/2020 - Corrections have been made to the medians in Table 12 of the 2016-17 data cube.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 3418.0