Understanding the money PIT

10 August 2010  Regional  Economy 

Did you know that aggregated tax data can show regional variations in income, including wages and salaries?

As the economic well-being of most Australians is largely determined by the amount of income they receive, analysing regional variations in wages and salaries - and how these change over time - can provide valuable information about relative advantage and disadvantage in regions and the nature of regional economies in general.

The ABS publication, Wage and Salary Earner Statistics for Small Areas, Time Series, 2003-04 to 2006-07 (cat. no. 5673.0.55.003) shows how you can use tax data to explore regional trends in wages and salaries over time. The data featured in this publication can be used to explore questions such as:

  • Have average incomes from wages and salaries increased over time, and if so by how much?
  • Which regions experienced higher growth in average wages and salaries income compared to others?
  • Have average incomes from wages and salaries increased at higher rates in capital city areas than outside capital cities?
  • Which regions with high average incomes from wages and salaries also had high growth rates in wages and salaries?
  • Which regions with low average income had high growth rates in wages and salaries?
Some of the overall findings were:
  • Average annual income in Australia grew by 4.5% per annum between 2003-04 and 2006-07.
  • Western Australia had the highest growth in average annual wages and salaries between 2003-04 and 2006-07 (6.2%), followed by Queensland (5.4%), and the Australian Capital Territory (4.7%).
  • The Local Government Area of Ravensthorpe in Western Australia had the highest average annual growth rate in wages and salaries during this period (24%). This coincided with the establishment of a nickel and cobalt mine and processing plant in the region. Five other local government areas recorded average annual growth rates above 10% - four of these were located in Western Australia.
While the publication focuses on Western Australia as a case study, you can analyse data for any region using the Excel spreadsheets that accompany the article. These spreadsheets contain data on the age, sex, occupation and income of wage and salary earners in Australia. You can download data for a range of geographic levels, from state/territory right down to local government areas and statistical local areas.

Watch for the release of 2007-08 data later in 2010.

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