Showing posts with label wages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wages. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Scott Morrison delivers - but it is not good economic news


This was then Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison in 2016 with blunt warning about a future recession and dip in living standards..... 

The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 2016: 

A generation of Australians has never known a recession or high unemployment but unless hard decisions are taken soon, there is a "terrible risk" complacency could end Australia's 25 consecutive years of economic growth, Treasurer Scott Morrison has warned. 


In the first of three "economic headland" speeches the Treasurer will deliver in the coming weeks, designed to set out the budgetary challenges facing the nation - and the government's vision for how to tackle them - Mr Morrison will argue that it should not take an economic crisis to trigger a wake-up call, or restart the economic reform process, so that Australia enjoys a prosperous future. 


In extracts of the speech seen by Fairfax Media, which will be delivered in Sydney on Thursday, Mr Morrison made a simple plea. 


"I do not want my kids to know what a recession is and everything that goes along with that," he will say. 


"I recognise that in the absence of a 'recession we have to have', or the threat of 'becoming a banana republic', achieving necessary change will be more frustrating and more difficult. 


But it is no less necessary, and achieving it this way is far better than the alternative."  


In addition, Mr Morrison will say that on the current settings, a generation of Australians are likely to never pay tax, setting up a new divide - the "taxed and taxed-nots", prompting the Treasurer to ask: "Are we still up to the challenge of doing what we need to do to ensure another 25 years of consecutive economic growth? 

"Do we really appreciate how quickly our economic success can turn, and are we as prepared as we can be to deal with it ... my greatest concern is that we end up answering these questions the hard way." 


This is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2019 delivering 
a fall in living standards and what looks like the beginning of that recession.....

The Australian, 4 September 2019:

The Prime Minister said on Tuesday that the GDP figures would show that Australia is still doing better than many other developed economies.....

“Today’s growth figures will show over the year a softness … what we will see is that in a tough climate we are actually battling away quite well.

The Guardian, 4 September 2019:


Today the government has been madly attempting to spin the GDP figures as good. So let’s cut straight to the point – the figures are terrible and are among the worst we have seen this century. 


But what makes it worse is this government would have us believe they saw them coming. 


How bad are things? Today’s figures show the worst annual economic growth for 18 years. GDP per capita is now lower than it was a year ago, productivity is plunging and the economy is pretty much staying above water purely because of government spending and a drop in imports due to weak investment and household spending. 


And yet these are the figures the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, would have us believe are evidence of the “resilience of the Australian economy” and which the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said would “come as no surprise to me”. 


If this is how bad things get when the government says it is not being surprised, God help us if they ever get a shock. 


 That trend growth figure is the worst since March 2001. 


We have now had four consecutive quarters of trend growth below 0.5% – that hasn’t happened since the 1990s recession nearly 30 years ago. It is also the first time since the GFC that GDP per capita is lower than it was a year ago.... 


It was little wonder, in his press conference announcing the figures, that the treasurer quickly turned to talking about employment growth compared with the rest of the OECD, because there is not much to boast about on the whole economy side of things. 


Current growth has us in the bottom half of the OECD..... 


The figures also showed, despite the treasurer’s protestations, that living standards are continuing to decline. 


The treasurer suggested that “living standards continue to increase with real net national disposable income per capita rising 1% to be 2.7% higher through the year”. 


But that figure includes all income – both profits and wages. As such, when profits grow strongly due to big increases in export prices, then national income rises. But unless that flows through to households via wages growth, it is pretty meaningless to use it when talking about living standards. 


And we know that the big increase in income is coming from profits – primarily from the mining sector – and it is not flowing through to households. 


When we look at household disposable income we see that it fell not just in the June quarter but over the past year – down more than 1%. Household incomes per capita are currently at the same level they were in real terms in 2010. 


Today’s figures released by the ABS show the economy grew by 0.5% in the June quarter in seasonally adjusted terms and 0.4% in trend terms. Through the year the growth was a truly pathetic 1.4% seasonally adjusted and 1.5% in trend terms. 


Households of course know their living standards are falling, because they are showing it in how they spend their money. In the past year household consumption grew just 1.5% – again the worst result since the GFC..... 


But the treasurer, despite his talking up the figures, knows just how bad they actually are. He even noted that while profits in the mining sector rose 10.6% in the June quarter, in the non-mining sector they “actually fell 0.6%”. 


Because profits in the mining sector have grown so strongly and compensation to employees is growing so weakly, the share of national income going to workers has plunged. 


The last time the share of national income going to workers was this low, the Beatles had just toured Australia.....


Read the full article here.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 September 2019: 

“The crisis,” the [Reserve Bank] governor announced at a conference in 2017, “is really in real wage growth.”......

Instead of wages rising at more than 3 per cent a year, as they had in the five years to 2013, the average pay rise since has fallen to 2.2 per cent annually. 

After inflation, the average pay rise has been a scant 0.5 per cent.....

...without higher wages to pay for people’s groceries, medical care, homes and holidays, spending is weak and the economy enfeebled. 

Lowe has urged governments, state and federal, to lead the way, breaking their 2.5 per cent annual limits and paying workers more.

Then there is this headline demonstrating the folly of Liberal-National ideology......

Former failed advertising executive and Institute of Public Affairs adherent Scott Morrison clearly missing the point entirely.

Morrison, McCormack, Frydenberg & Co are hugging their projected budget surplus so tightly they are strangling the national economy.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

No you weren't imagining it - wages are stagnating in Australia


Whenever the Fair Work Commission reviews the minimum wage, one of those making a submission* to keep any increase in the minimum wage a modest one will be the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.

By way of example:
https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/sites/wagereview2014/submissions/ausgovt_sub_awr1314.pdf
First 5 points in a 12 point statement of Australian Government's position
https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/sites/wagereview2015/submissions/austgov_sub_awr1415.pdf


This is the result.......


As the asset-driven wealth gap has widened, incomes generated by employment have failed to keep up.

Average weekly disposable household incomes have grown just $44 over the past decade. In the four years to 2007-08, average weekly household incomes grew by $220. They dipped in the immediate wake of the global financial crisis before reaching $1067 in the 2013-14 survey. They fell in the next survey and rose $8 a week to $1062 in the 2017-18 survey.

In NSW, those in the lowest 20 per cent of income earners have seen their incomes go backwards in real terms since 2015-16, from $412 a week to $397 a week. They are only $6 a week higher than in 2011-12. The biggest increase has been for people in Tasmania, where disposable incomes jumped $83 to a record-high $922, with households across all income ranges boosted. The largest slump has been in Western Australia, where disposable incomes are $157 lower than their peak in 2013-14. [my yellow highlighting]

However, lest Australian voters seek to blame the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison or any employer lobby group for paltry wages growth, the Australian Treasury and participants at a recent conference organised by the rather esoteric Economic Society of Australia - est. in 1925 and delighting in producing articles such as "Community and Expert Wine Ratings and Prices" and "Non‐monotonic NPV Function Leads to Spurious NPVs and Multiple IRR Problems: A New Method that Resolves these Problems" - have rushed to the defence of both government and the business community.

With Treasury in particular pointing a finger at employees, who are reluctant to quit their current jobs and chance their arm in an uncertain labour market, as a possible cause of low wages growth.  
So there you have it. Despite both the federal government and employer groups constantly pushing to limit wages growth, it's really the fault of workers. 

Regardless of the fact that productivity growth mainly from workers' efforts has averaged 1.4 percent a year since the end of 2010 having risen at a relatively steady rate since 1991.

Note:
* See https://www.fwc.gov.au/awards-agreements/minimum-wages-conditions/annual-wage-reviews/annual-wage-review-2017-18-3. Go to right hand sidebar, open a wage review link, select Submissions &  then click on Initial Submissions.


Tuesday, 11 June 2019

So how is Australian wage growth faring so far in 2019?


If one looks at national averages for wage growth or compensation of employees (COE) in March Quarter 2019 it looks as though no-one has been left behind.

However, first glances can be deceptive. 

COE increased 1.2% and average compensation per employee rose 0.4%.
Private COE grew 1.4%, while public COE increased 0.7%.



In the March Quarter 2019 there was negative wages growth in Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). 

With a seasonally adjusted  -0.4% total change to pre-tax wages in Tasmania, a -0.3% total change to pre-tax wages in the Northern Territory and -0.4% total change to pre-tax wages in the ACT.

While March Quarter 2019 total percentage changes in pre-tax wages growth for the remaining states was:

Victoria 0.7%
Queensland 0.8%
New South Wales 1.6%
West Australia 1.7%
South Australia 2.0%.

Note: Compensation of Employees (COE) represents total gross (pre-tax) wages paid by employers to employees for work done in March Quarter 2019 accounting period.

Seasonally adjusted there was a 0.5% change in total hourly rates of pay excluding bonuses in Australia between December Quarter 2018 and March Quarter 2019.

Other factors to consider alongside wages……..

According to the ABS the Cost Price Index (CPI) rose 1.3 per cent per cent through the year to the March quarter 2019, after increasing 1.8 per cent through the year to the December quarter 2018.

In March Quarter 2019 CPI remained flat due to reduced costs in automotive fuel and domestic/international holiday travel & accommodation. Although over the last twelve months, food and non-alcoholic beverages group costs rose 2.3% and, in seasonally adjusted terms food and non-alcoholic beverages group rose 1.2% this quarter. While in seasonally adjusted terms this quarter education group costs rose 0.3% and health group rose 0.7%.


Friday, 17 May 2019

Australian economy has grown weaker and workers paypackets leaner under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government


ABC News, 11 May 2019:

Australia's "strong economy" has been the Coalition's mantra throughout the election campaign.

Earlier this month, the Liberal Party created a meme of a smiling Scott Morrison armed with a lightsaber and dressed as a Jedi alongside the slogan: "The economy is strong with this one."

In Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's Budget speech, the phrase "strong economy" featured 14 times.

And Labor, loathe to campaign on what it sees as the Coalition's territory, has barely challenged this proposition.

Yet the evidence suggests the claim is more rhetoric than reality.

On just about any measure, the economy is not strong — and any enduring pretensions that it is have been undermined by no less an authority than the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

Its latest monetary policy statement has revised down economic growth for this financial year to just 1.7 per cent — more than half a percentage point below its previous forecast.

That contradicts Treasury forecasts in the Budget, which are barely a month old and were reaffirmed by Treasury even more recently in the pre-election economic and fiscal outlook.

Wages growth, despite a recent small pick-up, has been weaker during the past six years than at any time since World War II.

Home values and household wealth have plummeted amid one of the biggest property slumps in Australia's history.

The inflation rate is at a historic low of just 1.3 per cent and has languished below the Reserve Bank's target range of 2 to 3 per cent for more than three years.

Although employment growth has been reasonably strong, driven by the public sector and community services, key sectors that drive the economy are shrinking.

Manufacturing, construction and retail trade have all shed tens of thousands of jobs over the past year — the building industry layoffs are a product of a massive slump in dwelling investment, which the RBA reckons will continue for years.

Some better headline data mask gloomier realities

Only high rates of immigration have stopped Australia lapsing into a formal recession.

The continued expansion — now in its 28th year, the longest period without a recession in recent world history — disguises a "per capita" recession that is driving down living standards.

Similarly, an unemployment rate mired at 5 per cent, which is not high by the standards of recent decades, disguises the true weakness of the labour market.
More than 13 per cent of the workforce is underutilised — either unable to secure work at all or the hours they need — and a disproportionate share of the jobs growth in recent times has been poor quality: casual and contract jobs in relatively low-wage, low-productivity sectors.

The Reserve Bank is betting on the unemployment rate staying where it is, but others are less optimistic.

Westpac's Bill Evans, one of the most long-standing and respected market economists, predicts that developments in the labour market over the next three months will disappoint the RBA with a "deterioration of the labour market" over the coming six months and "continued weak inflation".

This downturn in the economy is largely homegrown — the product of weak wages growth and the unwinding of an unsustainable property boom that left households saddled with enormous debts.

If there's also an external shock, perhaps from a trade war sparked by Donald Trump's tariffs on our largest trading partner China, it will open up the possibility of a double-whammy.

Yogi Berra, the legendary US baseball star and coach, famously observed that "it's tough making predictions, especially about the future", and it's a maxim that's often born[e] out in economic forecasting.

But you don't need a crystal ball to realise that whoever forms government after the federal election will inherit a sluggish economy, not a strong one.

ABC News, 12 May 2019:

The Reserve Bank's new line in the sand gets its first big test with the latest reading from the jobs market this week.

The new line, as set down in the RBA's latest Statement on Monetary Policy (SOMP), can be roughly defined as the unemployment rate holding at 5 per cent through 2019 and 2020 before drifting lower.

The persistent head-winds of low inflation has seemingly blurred, if not blown away, the RBA's previous markers — parallel lines which were intended to corral inflation between 2 to 3 per cent for as far as the eye can see, or an economist can forecast.

Governor Philip Lowe made it clear a further improvement in the labour market was needed to get the economy out its rut and back in the groove, growing at its full potential.

No back-tracking on this one for the RBA. Lower unemployment and underemployment — where workers are searching for more hours to make ends meet — will soak up the spare capacity sloshing around the economy, inflation gets back to where the RBA wants it and GDP grows at its long term trend, or better.

That's still a long way off, even using the RBA's recently updated and far from pessimistic forecasts......

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over the twelve months to the March quarter 2019 the living costs for self–funded retiree households fell by -0.2%, while the living costs for age pensioner households and other government transfer recipient households rose by 0.3% and 0.2% respectively. Employed households living costs remained unchanged over the same time period at 0.1% above CPI.

It should be noted that penalty rates for retail workers will be further reduced by 15% of the base wage rate on 1 July 2019 and 1 July 2020 as per Fair Work Commission 2017 decision.

Friday, 3 May 2019

13 reasons why voting for Liberal or Nationals candidates on 18 May 2019 may not be the best choice you could make




Key National Findings

Finding 1: Throughout the three year period of the forthcoming 46th parliament, workers will collectively receive $2.87 billion less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than a Labor Government, when factoring in each party’s policy preferences.

Finding 2: Nationally, workers in the fast food industry are expected to receive $303.8 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government over the life of the forthcoming parliament.

Finding 3: Nationally, workers in the hospitality industry are expected to receive $837.15 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government over the life of the forthcoming parliament.

Finding 4: Nationally, workers in the retail industry are expected to receive $1.64 billion less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government over the life of the forthcoming parliament.

Finding 5: Nationally, workers in the pharmacy industry are expected to receive $84.86 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government over the life of the forthcoming parliament.

Finding 6: Over the life of the forthcoming parliament, workers in Queensland are collectively expected to receive $573.7 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government’s than under a Labor Government.

Finding 7: Over the life of the forthcoming parliament, workers in New South Wales are expected to receive $899.26 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government.

Finding 8: Over the life of the forthcoming parliament, workers in the ACT are expected to receive $45.69 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government.

Finding 9: Over the life of the forthcoming parliament, workers in Victoria are expected to receive $750.74 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government.

Finding 10: Over the life of the forthcoming parliament, workers in Tasmania are expected to receive $65.02 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government.

Finding 11: Over the life of the forthcoming parliament, workers in South Australia are expected to receive $209.65 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government.

Finding 12: Over the life of the forthcoming parliament, workers in Western Australia are expected to receive $299.52 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government.

Finding 13: Over the life of the forthcoming parliament, workers in Northern Territory are expected to receive $23.56 million less in penalty rate pay under a re-elected Coalition Government than under a Labor Government.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Did Morrison & Co send your chance of getting a decent pay rise up in smoke?



“Brace yourselves Australia — everyday things are about to cost more, and your chance of a pay rise has gone up in smoke[News Corp Journalist David Ross writing in news,com,au, 8 March 2019]

Well it had to happen. After five and a half years of an Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Coalition Government the nation has reached what is known as a per capita recession.

This hasn’t occurred since the Howard Government’s last full year in power.

Almost sixty per cent of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product comes from consumer spending and five and a half years of deliberate wage suppression by both the federal government and the business sector means the majority of consumers have little to spend.

The economy has been markedly slowing under Scott Morrison’s economic policies, first as federal treasurer then as prime minister.

Annual growth has now fallen to just 2.3 per cent according to the Reserve Bank.

This slowing has a cascade effect.



Monday, 11 March 2019

If as an ordinary worker you feel like you have been financially marching backwards for the last five and a half years then you probably have


“Backing business generates higher wages, jobs & growth.”  [Australian Treasurer & Liberal MP for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg, Twitter, 8 March 2019]

Such a confident quote from a Coalition Treasurer in campaign mode - but is it true?

According to the Dept. of Prime Minister & Cabinet/ASIC at the end of the period 30 July 2013 to 31 June 2014, there were est.2.6 million actively trading businesses in Australia and, according to the ABS by the end of  2017-18 there were 2.3 million actively trading businesses in the market sector in Australia.

Despite the Morrison Government alleging that by November 2018 it had created 1.2 million more jobs since September 2013, it's easy enough to see that in January 2019 the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was only 0.6% lower than it was when the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Coalition Government came to power in September 2013.

Additionally, it would appear that the ratio of unemployed persons to job vacancies in late 2013 was est. 20 unemployed individuals for very 1 job vacancy and by December 2018 this stood at an est. 15.57 unemployed individuals for every 1 job vacancy.

So what about wages growth?

The Global Financial Crisis ran from 2007 to 2008 and Australia came through this crisis relatively unscathed.

So with little structural damage to our financial institutions or the industry & business sectors, the national economy should be chugging along nicely.

By now ordinary workers should be reaping the rewards for their productivity - as labour input to market sector multifactor productivity increased by 3.0% overall on quality adjusted hours worked basis in 2017-18 (while capital input only grew by 2.0%).

The biggest labor input increases occurred in Administrative and Support Services (8.2%), Manufacturing (3.8%), Accommodation and Food Services (3.7%), and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (3.7%).

However, this is what each Australian's nominal slice of the economic pie looked like by December 2018......




According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in the December Quarter 2018; Compensation of employees increased by 0.9% nationally. 

In the Australian Capital Territory  the compensation increase was 2.1%, in Tasmania 1.6%, Queensland 1.5%, Victoria 1.4%, New South Wales 0.7%, and South Australia 0.1%. However compensation growth went backwards in Western Australia at -0.2% and Northern Territory -0.7%.

Also according to the ABS; The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.5 per cent in the December quarter 2018 This followed a rise of 0.4 per cent in the September quarter, a rise of 0.4% in the June quarter and a 0.4% rise in the March quarter 2018.

It doesn't take a genius to see that nationally the effect of that December national compensation increase was actually 0.9% minus 0.5% CPI equalling 0.4% when it came to how far those few dollars in wage increase would stretch the weekly pay packet.

Why is low wages growth occurring? Well according to the Minister for Finance and the Public Service & Liberal Senator for Western Australia Mathias Cormann it is deliberate Morrison Government policy to suppress wages growth.
The result of this ongoing wages suppression? A continuation of the downward progression of disposable income and rising household debt, as illustrated in this graph from 2015 onwards.
ABC News, 9 September 2018



BACKGROUND

 Business Insider, 4 March 2019:

The ABS on Monday (4 March) released its Business Indicators results for December 2018, which showed trend growth in company gross operating profits at a healthy 9.6 per cent over the year to the December quarter.

Seasonally adjusted, that figure was even higher, hitting double digits at 10.5 per cent.

The figures were boosted by a strong performance that quarter, with trend growth up by 0.9 of a percentage point on the September quarter, or by 0.8 of a percentage point when seasonally adjusted.

The New Daily, 7 March 2019:

Chief executives and chief financial officers don’t get bonuses for increasing their companies’ labour costs – so they try not to.

Chairpersons and boards are not clapped on their collective back by institutional investors for devoting a greater share of revenue to wages – so they don’t.

And the cumulative effect of those simple realities is now unavoidable: Years of real, take-home wages going backwards while corporate profits increased, have meant household consumption is stalling and taking the economy with it.

Yet such is the myopic nature of corporate focus, business leaders react with horror to the idea that employees need a bigger share of the pie.

The business lobby claims wage increases aren’t possible without productivity trade-offs – but that’s after the productivity increases of recent years going overwhelmingly to higher profits.

Quite simply, the key business lobby groups have little credibility. They claimed reducing penalty rates would increase employment – it didn’t. They claimed cutting company tax would increase wages: It hasn’t and it won’t.

Household consumption accounts for more than half of the economy. According to the ABS, and nicely reported by Greg Jericho with helpful graphs, real household disposable income per capita has fallen back to where it was in 2010.

“Average compensation per employee” grew by only 1.5 per cent in 2018 – an even worse result than the better-publicised ABS wages index.

It’s only population growth that’s providing what little retail sales and GDP growth we have….

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) increased the minimum wage by 3.5 per cent last July – against the arguments of the business lobby – and by 3.3 per cent in July 2017. 

That increase of 6.8 per cent barely registered on the various measures of wages growth.

The conundrum of business needing consumers to have income growth, but 
not wanting to pay workers more, is a little like the “Paradox of Thrift” – it makes sense for an individual in uncertain times to save and not spend as much, but if everyone does it, uncertain times turn into bad times.

As argued here previously, business is holding a very determined wages strike. 

Corporate leaders don’t need FWC permission to do it, they just have to hang together to keep a lid on wage rises. In the process, they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

For the Coalition government, the result is a record of economic failure.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

On the subject of income, welfare support and spending


Will negative wage growth, the acute poverty of jobless people combined with the avarice of employers and punitive federal government policy intesect to create a perect storm which will see household spending fall this year?   

Current state of play......

ABC News, 23 February 2019:

Rather, Dr Lowe saw stagnant household incomes is a much bigger threat to consumer spending, and thus to the 60 per cent of the economy based on it.
"Aggregate household income used to grow at 6 per cent, it's growing sub-3," he told the MPs on the committee.

"That's a big difference, and you accumulate that over three or four years and income is 8, 10 or 12 per cent lower than it otherwise would have been.

"Many people borrowed assuming their incomes would grow at the old rate and they haven't.

"They're having more difficulty, they've got less free cash and so they can't spend, so this is why I've put so much emphasis on the need for a pick-up in wage growth."
Dr Lowe told the committee he has been using speeches to try and lift wage expectations, while the RBA has been keeping interest rates low and stable for an extended period of time to relieve the pressure on households.

The RBA governor said, while the strategy seems to be working — with unemployment down at 5 per cent and wage growth starting to pick up from recent lows — he could use a bit more help from the Fair Work Commission and employers.
Fair Work last year awarded a 3.5 per cent pay rise for those on the minimum wage and linked awards, and Dr Lowe said that was a "sensible and right policy" and a similar increase this year "makes a lot of sense".

"If workers get their normal long-run share of that [productivity increase] then their real wages should rise by 1 per cent a year," he said.

Financial Review,  7 February 2019:

Consumer anxiety has reached its highest level in three years, with households spending less on discretionary items as they worry about their finances and the future.

The National Australia Bank consumer anxiety index rose to 62 points in the December quarter, and close to 40 per cent of those surveyed said they had experienced financial hardship during the quarter – the highest level in two years.

Households said they had pulled back their spending on things like travel, eating out and entertainment due to heightened anxiety about their financial conditions.

The primary causes of anxiety through the December quarter were how to finance one's retirement and how to provide for one's family's future....

"What's happening here is you haven't got much wages growth, you're paying off utilities, you're paying off debt, and you're doing things that you have to do."

Mr Oster said after doing all those things, there wasn't much money left for households.

Anxiety about job security reached its highest level since 2016, and 50 per cent of homes in hardship found their financial position impacted by high utility bills.

The Guardian, 17 September 2018:

A proposal to increase Newstart allowance by $75 a week would lead to a boost in consumer spending, creating more than 10,000 jobs and lifting wages, a new report shows.

The report by Deloitte Access Economics, released on Monday morning, said the policy to increase the incomes of more than 700,000 people by $10.71 a day would cost the federal budget $3.3bn a year.

But a “prosperity dividend” would see the government collect an extra $1bn in taxes as a result of a stronger economy, and the proposal was also projected to create 12,000 extra jobs in 2020-21 and increase wages by 0.2%.

It comes amid debate about the rate of Newstart, which at $272.90 for a single person has not risen in real terms in more than two decades. It will increase by $2.20 this week as a result of indexation.

The Australian Council of Social Service (Acoss), business groups, unions and a former prime minister, John Howard, have all argued for an increase, but the government has so far dismissed those calls….

The bulk of the economic benefits from increasing the payment would go to the bottom 5% of Australian income earners, who would receive “six times the dollars going to the highest income quintile”. The “poorest of the poor” would receive 28 times the relative boost to their disposable incomes, than the top income quintile.

Regional areas “most in need of help” would be key winners from increased spending….

The current rate is the equivalent to living on $38.99 a day. The report said a single person who also receives the maximum rent assistance and the energy supplement would be living on about $49.24 a day.

Previous research has shown that those on Newstart live on as little as $17 a day after their housing expenses and bills.

ABC NEWS, 9 September 2018:

It may not have garnered the same attention as the surprisingly strong second-quarter GDP growth, but an equally striking fact in last week's national accounts was household savings had just hit a post-GFC low.

It is not a new phenomenon. The household saving ratio — or the ratio of households' net saving to disposable income — has been shrinking since 2014.
What makes the latest figure uncomfortable is that there is now little fat left to trim, and on current trends households will be spending more they earn.

The ability of the Australian economy to keep growing in the face of a number of challenges in recent years owes a fair bit to the savings so prudently built up after the sobering experience of the GFC.

As JP Morgan's Tom Kennedy points out, the persistent decline in savings since 2014 has been an important part of Australia's real GDP growth performance, helping offset some of the spending drag associated with record low wages growth and an unemployment rate that has yet to fire up wages.

While the correlation between savings and spending is far from perfect, Mr Kennedy has drilled down into the figures, and is worried.