Government drives salaries growth

SALARIES in Karratha are 1.6 times higher than the national average and, as expected, remote areas of Western Australia as well as Sydney, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne, attracted the highest average monthly salaries.
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Staff Reporter

WA’s gold mining mecca of Kalgoorlie-Boulder was the only regional centre featured in the top 10 salary locations.

These were just some of the findings from this month’s issue of the Commonwealth Bank’s economic vitality report Viewpoint.

But hand-in-hand with this growth, particularly in remote areas, were elevated costs of living and inflated house prices, where a modest three-bedroom house in Karratha can fetch up to $2 million and in Port Hedland, weekly rents for a simple one-bedroom unit can top $1000.

The bank’s latest analysis found that salaries in the Karratha region were 62% higher than the national average, compared to 26% in the Gladstone region.

Salaries per person in northern WA were also 13% higher than salaries in central Queensland, and a massive 34% above the national average.

There was also a big disparity in pay packets between mine workers and retail workers in mining areas, with the latter generally earning 70% less than their mining counterparts.

It also found that average salaries going into the bank’s accounts in remote areas were equivalent to average salaries going into city accounts.

In fact, in the second quarter of this year, the average monthly salary going to account holders in remote areas was only $24 per week less than salaries going to capital city-based account holders.

In terms of salaries growth, it was also found that areas where the principal employer was the government (public administration and safety and health care and social assistance) had the highest salary increases.

Areas with high levels of agricultural employment experienced the lowest average salary increases.

The data also showed that not everyone in remote areas was doing well with the proportion of Newstart recipients higher in the bush.

As at June 30, for every $100 earned by a mining employee, $55 was earned by government employees, $48 by healthcare and social assistance workers, and $29 by those in retail trade.

In contrast, construction sector employees receive $109 for every $100 earned in mining.

Salaries earned in industry sectors that support mining activity directly tended to fare better. For example, for every $100 earned by a miner, a transport worker earned $74, a technical professional $70 and a manufacturing worker $82.

Also, up to 78% of salaries paid by resources companies in northern WA left the region under fly-in/fly-out rosters, whereas in central Queensland 61% of mine worker pay packets stayed in the region.

In the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, around 65% of mine workers drive in and out.

The report also found that women in mining areas were earning similar salaries to men in non-mining areas, but still up to 22% less than their male counterparts in the same area.

In central Queensland, mining represents 14% of total salary payments and government 23% with salaries for government employees equivalent to 60% of mining salaries, while retail workers received salaries equal to 36%.