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17 Jun 2019 14:34
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  •   Home > News > International

    How does your income compare to everyone else's?

    Test how well you know your place on Australia's income ladder — and then find out how your salary compares to your neighbours.


    Most people struggle to accurately estimate how their income compares to other Australians. See if you can do better.

    Do you ever feel like you earn less than most other people?

    The latest ABS employment figures could be bad news for wages, with rising unemployment and underemployment adding downward pressure on pay packets.

    If you haven't had a pay rise in a while, it can feel like your income is inadequate to meet your daily needs, and that you're struggling more than most.

    But are you? It's time to find out.

    (Tap through above to compare your own income, or keep reading to see some simple case studies.)

    Before we start, keep in mind that the numbers we're quoting here come from the 2016 census.

    Median income earners — $600 a week

    If your income is around the median weekly personal income, this would place you in the $33,800 to $41,599 per annum income bracket for Australia, along with 9 per cent of other income earners.

    • 47 per cent of Aussies would earn more than you.
    • 43 per cent of Aussies would earn less than you.

    Low income earners — $300 a week

    If your income is around $300 a week, you're in the $15,600 to $20,799 per annum income bracket for Australia, along with 10 per cent of other income earners.

    • 76 per cent of Aussies would earn more than you.
    • Only 14 per cent of Aussies earn less.

    High income earners — $1,400 a week

    If your income is around $1,400 a week, that would put you in the $91,000 to $103,999 per annum income bracket for Australia, with 4 per cent of other income earners.

    • Only 10 per cent of Aussies would earn more than you.
    • 86 per cent of Aussies would earn less.

    How (and where) the top earners live

    People in the very top income bracket earn at least $156,000 a year — or $3,000 a week.

    At census time, there were about 596,531 people in Australia above that income level — or 3.8 per cent of people.

    This is Australia, broken into local government areas (LGAs). The darker the area, the larger the proportion of top income earners living in the LGA.

    All of the top 10 LGAs for income earners in the top bracket are located in two states. NSW and WA.

    In Western Australia, five of the top LGAs — Peppermint Grove (30 per cent), Cottesloe (23 per cent), Nedlands (21 per cent), Claremont (18 per cent), and Cambridge (18 per cent) — are clustered around Perth.

    The large LGA of Ashburton in northern Western Australia has the highest proportion of top income bracket earners in Australia at 35 per cent, or more than one in three, ostensibly due to the prevalence of the mining industry in the area.

    Many of the LGAs surrounding this area also have higher than average proportions of top income earners.

    The other four top LGAs are positioned around Sydney — Mosman (24 per cent), Woollahra (23 per cent), and Hunters Hill (19 per cent) and Ku-ring-gai (17 per cent).

    At the other end of the scale, there are nine LGAs which reported no-one at all in the top income bracket.

    This includes the small square LGA of Belyuen in the Northern Territory...

    ... and a number of LGAs in far north Queensland.

    These LGAs have two key things in common — they are all in regional or rural areas, and they all have much higher than average Indigenous populations, with most of them recording an Indigenous population of more than 80 per cent.

    They are also each home to less than 1,000 people.

    The inequality in these areas is driven by a combination of remoteness and a high Indigenous population.

    Demographers say that remoteness is related to disadvantage, and Indigenous people are both more likely to be disadvantaged and more likely to live in remote parts of Australia.

    What else do we know about the top earners?

    It's probably no surprise that certain occupations, including doctors and lawyers, are more likely to make it into the top earners group.

    Let's look at the five most common occupations for those earning the most.

    Doctors alone make up 7 per cent of the highest-earning group, as do CEOs and similar senior managers.

    People in just these five professions make up more than a quarter (29 per cent) of all people in the top income bracket.

    Another thing we can see is that the top income bracket typically works longer hours than any other, with 42 per cent working 49 hours or more a week, compared to the average of 10 per cent.

    And 62 per cent of top income earners have at least a bachelor degree or above, compared with the average of 25 per cent.

    What about some of the characteristics we are born with? How are they reflected in these figures?

    Well, the vast majority of top income earners are male (75 per cent).

    Indigenous people are greatly underrepresented, making up less than 1 per cent of the top-earning bracket. That's less than half the proportion of all income earners who are Indigenous, at 2 per cent.

    One factor that doesn't seem to make a big difference is whether you are born here, with Australian-born workers representing 66 per cent in the highest bracket, compared to 67 per cent of all income earners.

    Are there any surprises?

    Well, maybe.

    High income-earners are slightly more likely to do voluntary work for an organisation or group, at 29 per cent, compared to an average of 21 per cent.

    At 66 per cent, high income-earners are slightly more likely to own one or two cars than the rest (64 per cent).

    But they're slightly less likely to own three or more cars (24 per cent to 26 per cent).

    The highest income bracket also has more people who are married (73 per cent) and less people who have never been married (15 per cent) than any other bracket. Its proportion of people who are divorced (7 per cent) is also lower when compared to the average.

    This comparison holds true even when controlling for age.

    So maybe money can buy love? Or perhaps financial security leads to stable marriages.

    Credits

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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