When will the RBA admit that visa rorts are crushing wages?

By Leith van Onselen

RBA Governor, Phil Lowe, must live on another planet to be so out of touch. On Wednesday, Lowe warned that white collar workers may soon feel downward salary pressure because of technology and globalisation:

To illustrate his point, Dr Lowe said he was aware of “senior executives” in Sydney who no longer had personal assistants (PA’s) working in their offices, but had rather outsourced the role to workers in the Philippines who were contactable through video calls and other technology…

“The result of that is there is less upward pressure on the wages of PA’s in Sydney.”

Has Lowe not noticed that IT workers, accountants, engineers and other white collar professions have already experienced downward pressure on wages from the huge flood of  foreign workers on skilled visas? And this has come despite actual skills shortages running near recessionary levels, according to the Department of Employment:

For example, the top five occupations granted permanent visas in the skilled stream in 2017-18 were:

  • Accountants (3505)
  • Software Engineer (3112)
  • Registered Nurses (1561)
  • Developer Programmer (1487)
  • Cook (1257)

Yet, according to the Department of Jobs and Small Business’ “historical list of skills shortages in Australia”, not one of these professions was in shortage over the four years to 2017, whereas Software Engineer has never been in shortage in the 31 year history of the series!

Let’s take the IT industry, which has been subjected to a relentless flood of foreign workers over many years:

ScreenHunter_16433 Dec. 02 07.28

Especially from India:

ScreenHunter_16434 Dec. 02 07.34

Most of these Indian IT workers have been employed on very low wages – a situation that has only gotten worse over recent years:

However, yesterday we received the positive news that Infosys has created 1200 Aussie IT jobs in the wake of the abolition of 457 skilled visa class. This is how to get wage rises.

It would be nice if Phil Lowe and the RBA would finally admit that Australia’s mass immigration policy is contributing to the downward pressure on wages by oversupplying the labour market and undercutting local workers instead of promoting the permanent supply shock to save its pet housing bubble.

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Unconventional Economist