Which city’s workers got the largest pay rises between 2006 and 2011? Hint: It’s not Perth

Average incomes in the far north city of Townsville increased a whopping 46% between 2006 and 2011, according to an Australian government report.

The Department of Infrastructure and Transport yesterday unveiled its annual State of Australian Cities report, which brings together newly released data from the 2011 census to shed light on how urban populations in Australia have changed.

This puts incomes in Townsville just a smidgeon behind average incomes in Perth, which has had a large exposure to the mining boom.

The next highest pay rises over the period were awarded to workers in Darwin (44%), Perth (35%) and Newcastle (29%).

Workers in Canberra, as well as the neighbouring suburb of Queanbeyan, were the highest-paid in the country, earning over $1800 a week on average. Their incomes had also risen the sixth-fastest in the country between 2006 and 2011, increasing by 25% on average over the five years.

In cities like Townsville, Darwin and Perth, a lot of the income rises are not pay rises awarded to existing workers, but new wages paid to attract specialised workers to booming industries. Townsville has a large number of fly-in fly-out workers working in the surrounding mines, and their larger incomes may skew the average incomes in the city.

However, it’s not just the mining boom that resulted in higher incomes. Incomes in all the 18 large cities assessed rose strongly over the period, even when adjusted for inflation, the report notes.

Incomes at the lower end of the spectrum rose because of longer hours and higher employment, while incomes at the top end of the scale increased because of those workers receiving pay rises.

It also notes that incomes in Australian capital cities are on average 19% higher than incomes in non-urban areas.

“The largest disparity in mean household incomes between a capital city and the rest of the state was in Victoria, where the average household income in Melbourne was 23% higher than in the rest of the state,” the report states, citing ABS data.



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