New Straits Times

Hiring boom bloats Australia’s salary bill


SYDNEY: Australian firms paid out a record amount in wages last quarter as a boom in hiring bloated their pay bill, a much-needed boost to consumer incomes and spending power at a time when overall growth in salaries remained subdued.

Yesterday’s figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed businesses paid out A$134.2 billion (RM409.5 billion) in wages and salaries in the December quarter, up 1.0 per cent on the previous quarter and 4.3 per cent higher than a year ago.

Annual growth in the total pay bill was more than twice that of individual wages, reflecting the huge 403,000 net gain in employment enjoyed last year.

Figures due tomorrow are forecast to show Australia’s A$1.8 trillion gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by around 0.6 per cent in the December quarter.

That would see annual growth slow to 2.5 per cent, from 2.8 per cent, but it would still mark more than 26 years without a technical recession.

The mix of moderate growth with restrained wages is a major reason the Reserve Bank of Australia is likely to keep interest rates at record lows at its meeting today.

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