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Government Supports Another Increase in Minimum Wage, Downplays Concerns about Inflation

The government is advocating for an increase in the minimum wage to align with the 3.4 percent rise in the CPI indicator over the past 12 months, as reported in January.

The federal government has suggested that the minimum wage should reflect the annual inflation rate of 3.4 percent up to January.

Although the final decision rests with the Fair Work Commission during its annual wage review, Treasurer Jim Chalmers expressed the government’s expectation for an increase in the minimum wage.

Chalmers emphasized the importance of ensuring that low-paid workers do not experience a decline in their earnings due to the disproportionate impact of cost-of-living pressures on them.

Currently, individuals on the minimum wage earn $23.23 per hour, resulting in an annual income of $45,905.60 for a full-time employee working 38 hours per week, representing approximately 55 percent of median earnings in Australia.

Government Denies Inflation Risks

Regarding concerns about potential inflation risks associated with rising wages, the government clarified that it does not support across-the-board wage increases.

Chalmers stated, “The economy is still navigating inflation challenges, but this is not attributed to the lowest-paid workers earning excessively. This is a clear distinction.”

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An increase in the minimum wage is viewed as a more effective means of supporting low-income earners compared to a reduction in interest rates, which primarily benefits mortgage holders.

Chalmers noted the positive trends of decreasing inflation, declining unemployment rates, and the recent real wage growth in the economy.

He attributed the improving wage situation to the Fair Work Commission’s decisions to grant significant pay rises to low-income workers and emphasized the importance of continuing this trend.

According to Chalmers, the government’s submission is part of a broader strategy to assist households facing financial challenges, including those struggling with electricity costs.

Highlighting the potential benefits of raising the minimum wage, the government’s submission to the review will argue that such an action could enhance the workforce participation rate for women.

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