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New data ranks Australia as having highest minimum wage in the world

"New OECD data released this week has shown that Australia has now overtaken Luxembourg as having the highest minimum wage in the world," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group, said today.

"While this newly published minimum wage data is no cause for celebration for the large numbers of people without jobs or the even larger number of people who can't get additional hours of work, it again puts to rest arguments that our minimum wage is too low.

"As employers turn their attention from survival to a tentative resumption of normal levels of activity, Australia's position at the top of this particular league table makes the challenging task of a post-COVID-19 recovery even more difficult. It risks imposing more extended periods of unemployment and underemployment on young Australians with little workforce experience and employees with lower levels of qualifications.

"Increases in Australia's minimum wage have been relatively high in recent years. At a time of low incomes growth generally, the increase in the minimum wage announced by the Fair Work Commission in June this year has seen the minimum wage rise by 8.5% since 2017. With inflation over this period of 5.5%, this has meant an increase in real terms of 3.0%. Over the same period, the Wage Price Index which measures wage increases for all employees, rose by 6.8% or about 1.3% in real terms.

"It should therefore be no surprise that the latest official unemployment data show that the 16.4% rate of unemployment among people aged less than 25 is comfortably more than double the 7.4% rate of unemployment for the workforce as whole," Mr Willox said.

Link to OECD Data
Animated Chart: Hourly minimum wages around the world

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