The ‘Great Reshuffle’ might be your chance for a wage increase

Older Australian workers appear to be in a good position to negotiate a pay rise or consider a better job.

Buoyant job and wages figures for workers aged over 60 indicate a favourable employment environment for movement up the employment ladder or better pay.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that while wages for workers in payroll jobs increased by 3.2 per cent overall in the year since 19 December 2020, older Australians were the real winners, with wage increases of 10.2 per cent for the over 60s and 11 per cent for the over 70s.

In comparison, the figures for those aged between 30 and 60 ranged between 1.9 and 2.6 per cent.

The figures reflected the increase in job numbers, with an overall increase in payroll jobs of 3.2 per cent but an increase of 5.4 per cent for the over-60s and a 7.2 per cent increase for the over-70s.

Such figures reflect a demand for older workers that might give some leverage when searching for a job or negotiating a pay raise.

Read: Part-time employment and the Age Pension

Australian Catholic University professor of career education and development Jim Bright told The Age the evidence suggests that at a labour market level, where there is the most growth in jobs, there are the greatest pay increases.

“It is no surprise that those least likely to be encumbered with large debt – the youngest and oldest in the labour market – are freer to move around than those in the mortgage middle, moored to children,” he said.

Australian Tax Office (ATO) data shows workers who switch jobs usually experience a pay increase of between 8 and 10 per cent.

Read: Record levels of working older Australians driving housing reform

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Industry Group earlier this month that the job figures were a great opportunity for Australian workers.

“A stronger and more dynamic jobs market leads to increased productivity and wages,” he said. “Switching jobs allows workers to move up the job ladder for better pay.

“It leads to better job matching, moving higher skilled workers into higher skilled jobs.”

Mr Frydenberg said Treasury analysis showed that an estimated 300,000 workers in the December quarter said they left their jobs for a new opportunity, with the rate of people taking up new jobs now almost 10 per cent higher than the pre-COVID average.

He said Australia was experiencing a ‘Great Reshuffle’ rather than a ‘Great Resignation’.

Read: Older Aussies and the unemployed called on to help out in crisis

The Great Resignation refers to a trend in the US where workers are quitting their jobs at the highest rate since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting such data in 2000. The latest figures released for December report the ‘quit’ rate is hovering about 3 per cent, or 4.3 million jobs per month.

The trend is being attributed to a range of reasons, including burnout, lack of childcare, health concerns about COVID and a quest for better job opportunities.

What’s been your experience in the employment market? Have you changed jobs lately? Have you negotiated a pay rise? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

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Written by Jan Fisher

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