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Read below for some of the recent updates from the Centre for Future Work:
Social justice advocates across Australia are working to process the surprising results of the federal election. How do we make sense of the contrast between the upsurge in lobbying and activism around workplace issues (like wage stagnation, wage theft, and inequality) prior to the election, versus the re-election of a government that is now likely to downplay all those issues – or, worse yet, move policy in the opposite direction?
Our team at the Centre for Future Work has made some contributions to this continuing discussion:
Another Minimum Wage Increase…
One of the bright spots in the labour policy world recently has been a string of positive minimum wage increases announced since 2017 by the Fair Work Commission. Over those 3 years the minimum wage has grown by a compound total of 10%. That’s much better than in the rest of the labour market. In this article for The Conversation, Director Jim Stanford reviews the positive effects of higher minimum wages – and suggests the FWC could have gone further. See also the Centre’s recent report showing that the rise in minimum wages is the crucial factor behind the (modest) rebound in overall wage trends that is visible since 2017. Without those minimum wage increases, overall wage growth would still be inching along at under 2% per year.
…and Another Penalty Rate Cut
July 1 will mark the next stage in the Fair Work Commission’s timetable for continuing reductions in penalty rates for Sunday work in the retail and hospitality industries. Yahoo Finance recently interviewed our Director Jim Stanford for comments on the economic effects of the cuts, and the contrast between lower wages for some of Australia’s most insecure workers and an $11,000 raise (implemented the same day) for Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Please also review our recent analysis of job-creation trends in the retail and hospitality sectors: on average, they have created new work since penalty rates started at one-fifth the pace of other industries which did not have reduced penalties.
Choppy Economic Waters Ahead
Another painful irony of the election campaign was the media’s predictable emphasis on the supposedly superior “economic credentials” of the Coalition government – at a very moment when most indicators suggest a looming and serious slowdown in Australia’s economy. Indeed, within two weeks of the election the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates to a record low 1.25% in response to gathering storm clouds; financial analysts are unanimous that one or more further cuts are in store this year. Our Director Jim Stanford considered the ironies of this situation in acommentary for Channel 10’s Daily. He argued that neither interest rate cuts nor tax cuts will address the fundamental weaknesses in Australia’s economy: stagnant wages, weak investment, and the fragility of debt-fueled speculation in property and other markets. See also Jim’s video, still relevant after the election, interrogating the logic of claims about the “economic credentials” of any government.
This article first appeared on locoexpress.com.au
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