Australian living standards are in decline for the first time since the 91-92 recession despite strong corporate profits, obscene CEO salaries and an increase in the number of billionaires, research released by the peak body for working people has found.

The report includes work from the Australian National University’s Associate Professor Ben Phillips which uses data from Australian Bureau of Statistics measuring wages, welfare payments and investment incomes, allowing for taxes and interest payments and accounting for rising costs and the effects of population growth.

The research shows that living standards peaked in Australia in 2011 before a dramatic slide between 2015 and 2018. They are now falling faster than in 1991-92 recession.

Yet in 2016-17 alone, the number of billionaires in Australia increased by 26 percent to 43.

The ACTU report recommends a broad suite of reforms for better living standards and a more equal society. They include:

–          Reforms that aim to restore balance in workplace negotiations

–          Public investment in health, education, transport, communications, energy and research

–          Raising Newstart

–          Policies that create good, secure jobs

–          Curbs on excessive corporate power

–          Measures to ensure corporations and the very rich pay their faire share of tax

The report comes on the back of a leaked Credit Suisse investment note that revealed that labour productivity was rising four times as fast as real wages.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

“Working people in Australia need fair pay and good, secure jobs so that we can maintain good living standards.

“Right now people are struggling to maintain their living standards while corporations make bumper profits and CEOs take sickeningly large salaries and bonuses.

“The Morrison Government has overseen multi-nationals and the very wealthy taking more than their fair share of the nation’s wealth at the expense of the living standards of millions of working people.

“We need to re-balance our system so that people can negotiate fair pay rises and get a fair share of the wealth their work produces.

“Working people in Australia are ready to take action to restore our living standards.”


EDIT: This release has been updated to state that living standards are now falling faster than they were during the 1991/92 recession.