Australian wages shock again

Wages rose by just 2 per cent in the 12 months to September

Slow wage growth has been a restraint on household spending and confidence.

"Annual wages growth increased marginally to 2.0% in the September quarter 2017", said Bruce Hockman, Chief Economist at the ABS.

It will take into account the Reserve Bank's decision last week to again leave the cash rate at a record low 1.5 per cent and more signs of cooling across Australia's major housing markets, as well as renewed political instability from the citizenship debacle.

Australian wages accelerated by less than expected in the third quarter, despite a bump in minimum wages that economists had expected to lift the pay packets of around a quarter of workers.

"The higher wage growth in the September quarter was driven by enterprise agreement increases, end of financial year wage reviews and the Fair Work Commission's annual minimum wage review".

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The Reserve Bank of Australia remains cautious about raising interest rates, with wages growth flat overall and inflation still well short of its target of 2-3% on year.

After seasonal adjustments, private sector wages grew by just 1.86% over the year, outpaced by a 2.37% increase for public sector workers. Those for private sector workers increased by a larger 0.54%.

So, the data today is of particular interest.

The Australian wage growth is expected to creep higher over the coming years as spare capacity in the labour market is gradually being eroded, job insecurity has fallen, and businesses are reporting some pockets of difficulty in finding suitable labour, ANZ Research reported. Ongoing very-low wage growth and its implications for both the consumption and inflation trajectory suggest that monetary policy is likely to remain stimulatory for some time.

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