Budget Fail on Wage Growth and Secure Work

  • 12 May 2021

The Federal Government’s 2021 budget decisions will not improve the central issues facing working Australians - insecure work and low wage growth. Wage growth is forecast at negative or flat, locking in declining living standards for years leaving workers with no real pay rise for the whole time this Government has been in power. The women’s budget measures are small, delayed and piecemeal, and will do very little to improve the working lives of Australian women. Low wage growth, gender inequity and insecure, unreliable work do not happen by accident, they are the result of deliberate policy decisions taken by this Government, which have been reinforced in this budget.

This budget contains $17.9 billion in tax write-offs for big business, and only $1.1 billion for women’s safety over the next four years.  The billions provided to business in this budget are given without strings attached and risk again ending up in the pockets of shareholders and CEOs.

Any Government financial support to private businesses should be conditional on reliable, well paid jobs.

There is nothing in the budget to improve the wages and conditions of the hundreds of thousands of underpaid and overworked early childhood educators and aged care workers – nearly all of who are women.

The budget highlights the growing cost of natural disasters that climate change is making worse but delivers no credible national plan to reduce emissions and support workers and communities to make the shift to, and benefit from, a low carbon economy despite funding disaster relief and a few of the Federal Government’s preferred energy technologies.

Wage growth forecasts - the wages crisis continues

The wages crisis will continue as wages growth will remain low for the next four years. We have already seen a wages crisis for seven years, but this budget now predicts over a lost decade of wage growth.

  2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
Wage Price Index  1.25 1.5 2.25 2.5 2.75
 Real Wage Growth (WPI minus CPI)    -0.25% 0% 0% 0.25%

The wage price index is set to remain 2.5% or below to 2023-24 and below 3% for the entire of the budget forecasts.

The wages crisis will continue but we are sceptical that in 2022-23 we will see wages growth at 2.25%in 2022-23 - a significant jump from where wage growth is now at a record low of 1.4%

When we look at real wages growth we can there will either a fall in real in wages or they will be completely stagnate at 0% until 2023-24.


There are still almost 2 million people either unemployed or underemployed. While the unemployment rate will fall below 5% in 2022-23 we are sceptical the level of wage growth will return to normal levels without structural reform.