Salary update across industries – who’s paying what?

When recruitment experts compare Australia’s buoyant job climate with the latest salary trends, many are left scratching their heads. Business activity may be up but salary trends don’t show it.

It’s not that salaries are flat. Indeed, the latest data from SEEK Employment Trends indicates a modest upward trend. However, experts say salaries are not moving in line with increased business activity.

“Our clients are hiring more and being quicker to hire but we are not necessarily seeing salary increases across the board,” says Lindsey Ruth, Head of Marketing, Australia and New Zealand, at
recruitment firm Adecco Group. “This is especially the case for salaries over $70,000 where we’re only seeing about a 1–1.5% increase.”

Sentiment and salaries don’t add up

Peter Noblet, Senior Regional Director of recruitment firm Hays, agrees that there is an anomaly in the market. While new job ads on SEEK were up year-on-year by 7.8% in May 2016, salary increases remain modest.

“Almost two-thirds of the employers we’ve spoken to over the past 12 months have increased their business activity, which is great news, and 70% expect to increase activity in the year ahead,” he explains. “This is obviously going to lead to an increase in permanent headcount. If companies are looking to increase headcount and there is buoyancy within the market you tend to expect a commensurate growth in salaries, but that’s just not happening.”

The Hays 2016 salary report shows that two-thirds of employers will increase salaries by less than 3% in their next review and a further 12% expect to offer no increases.

“I think employers are still remaining cost conscious,” says Noblet. “They want to feel confident that they’ll get payback for their investments.”

Salaries across the sectors

While the greater part of employment sectors have recorded trend increases in average advertised salaries on SEEK over the past four months, growth has been slim. Average advertised salaries on SEEK are showing the strongest increasing trends in administration and office support ($56,135); information and communication technology ($102,173); community services and development ($69,094); and hospitality and tourism ($60,795).

The government and defence sector, which saw the greatest year-on-year increase in SEEK new job ads in May 2016 of 52%, was also among the sectors to record the most notable increasing trends in average advertised salaries ($89,563). “Government does regulate salaries but within these salary bandings there is still built-in room for growth,” explains Noblet.

The healthcare and medical sector is also recording increasing trends and the average advertised salary was $88,553. Noblet says this may be due to a growing demand within aged care. “Healthcare is going to be a key battleground for talent moving forward,” he says.

Only two employment sectors recorded downward trends in average advertised salaries on SEEK in May 2016. Mining, resources and energy continue to decline in trend terms with an average advertised salary of $115,727. Salaries in the sports and recreation sector have eased a little in recent months, with the average advertised salary in May 2016 sitting at $61,584.

Across the states, average advertised salaries are trending higher in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and, most noticeably, in the ACT. However, salaries are continuing to decline slightly in WA and the latest data also suggests a trend decline in Tasmania. Meanwhile, average advertised salaries remain relatively flat in the Northern Territory.

Money isn’t everything – but it matters

Noblet notes that while employees are realistic about salary growth, employers should expect some tough questions on remuneration. “The days of being able to walk in and get a massive increase are not necessarily going to happen but employees will begin to ask employers to loosen their purse strings,” he says. “More than 40% of the people we spoke to for our salary survey said they plan to ask for a pay rise in their next review.”

Noblet adds that salary isn’t everything. “The motivations of employees aren’t exclusively financial. That comes through in lots of studies. There are other factors that are important and work-life balance is certainly one of them.”

This correlates with recent findings from SEEK, which recently commissioned independent research to gain an understanding of the most important factors from candidates when choosing an employer.

“More than 30% of respondents of a recent SEEK survey valued work-life balance, followed by 20% stating job security and 19% said salary was the most important factor,” says Michael Ilczynski, Managing Director SEEK Employment. “This shows that while salary is an important consideration, there are other factors that can contribute to what employees consider a satisfying remuneration package”.

With little indication of significant salary increases on the horizon, employers may need to consider other benefits, such as flexibility and training, to keep their employees engaged.

Salary snapshot by industry – average advertised salaries on SEEK in May 2016

  • Mining, resources and energy – $115,727.

  • Consulting and strategy – $109,576.

  • Construction – $107,063.

  • Engineering – $103,648.

  • Information and communication technology – $102,173.

  • Legal – $91,277.

  • Government and defence – $89,563.

  • Healthcare and medical – $88,553.

  • Banking and financial services – $88,224.

  • Marketing and communications – $85,847.

  • Human resources and recruitment – $84,238.

  • Accounting – $82,652.

  • Science and technology – $82,220.

  • Insurance and superannuation – $80,678.

  • Sales – $80,352.

  • Design and architecture – $79,520.

  • Education and training – $78,579.

  • Advertising, arts and media – $76,629.

  • Farming, animals and conservation – $73,764.

  • Manufacturing, transport and logistics – $73,031.

  • Real estate and property – $72,279.

  • Community services and development – $69,094.

  • Trades and services – $63,838.

  • Sport and recreation – $61,584.

  • Hospitality and tourism – $60,795.

  • Retail and consumer products – $58,462.

  • Call centre and customer service – $56,940.

  • Administration and office support – $56,135.

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