There are four key ABS indicators derived from the two-yearly Employee Earnings and Hours (EEH) survey and the six-monthly Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) survey we use as a starting point for analysis of the gender pay gap:
1. Median hourly cash earnings (EEH)
2. Mean hourly cash earnings (EEH)
3. Median weekly cash earnings (EEH)
4. Mean weekly cash earnings (AWE)
These indicators, available on our Gender indicators page, provide a high-level snapshot of the gender pay gap. This is consistent with the approach used by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in their Global Wage Report 2018/19: What lies behind the gender pay gaps. Finer population (e.g. full-time employees) can be used for more in-depth analysis.
In addition, the following two ABS indicators, based on the ordinary time earnings of full-time adult employees are also presented on Gender indicators:
5. Mean weekly ordinary time earnings of full-time adult employees (AWE) - the most commonly cited measure of the gender pay gap
6. Mean weekly ordinary time cash earnings of full-time adult employees (AWE) - the 'cash earnings' equivalent of the commonly cited measure (which includes amounts salary sacrificed)
Mean weekly ordinary time earnings of full-time adult employees has historically been the most cited measure and is available on a long-term comparable basis. However, it is important to note that unlike the first four indicators above, this measure excludes amounts salary sacrificed, which was first collected in 2006.
We also include an equivalent of this commonly cited measure that includes salary sacrifice ('cash earnings'). The cash earnings series is the most comprehensive measure of earnings and is consistent with our latest underlying earnings concepts. Prior to 2006, salary sacrifice was excluded from our earnings concepts. Following a review, we implemented changes to our earnings conceptual framework to include amounts salary sacrificed. Estimates that exclude salary sacrifice are still produced in AWE to provide an uninterrupted historical time series (see Information Paper: Changes to ABS measures of employee remuneration), alongside estimates that include salary sacrifice.
Cash earnings series generally produce smaller gender pay gaps due to the prevalence of salary sacrifice arrangements in female dominated industries, such as Health care and social assistance. Women, on average, have higher salary sacrifice amounts than men.
There are many approaches to measuring the gender pay gap, and many factors that influence it, so no single measure can provide a complete picture. Instead, a range of measures should be considered together to understand the comparative earnings of men and women. Each measure will show a different sized pay gap, reflecting the impact of differences in the distribution of earnings amongst men and women (median v mean earnings) and compositional factors related to hours worked (hourly v weekly earnings).
Our data sources
We recommend a combination of indicators from EEH and AWE - to leverage the greater detail available from EEH data with the greater frequency and timeliness of AWE data.
EEH provides detailed compositional earnings data for men and women every two years, allowing for comparison of weekly and hourly, and mean and median earnings. AWE provides a long time series of mean weekly earnings for men and women. AWE measures are published every six months (three months after the survey reference period) so provide more frequent and timely, but less detailed, indicators of the gender pay gap. For more information on comparing EEH and AWE statistics, see A guide to understanding employee earnings and hours statistics.