Australian households suffer world’s biggest income collapse


Last month, Treasurer Jim Chalmers was caught lying by ABC/RMIT Fact Check for claiming that “after a decade of deliberate wage stagnation under the Coalition, wages are growing in welcome ways”:

Lying chalmers

The reality is that Australian real wages have plunged to March 2009 levels after falling 7.5% since June 2020:

Australian real wages

Australian households have also given up all of the stimulus-driven income gains from the pandemic, with real per capita household disposable income plunging to early 2019 levels, which was little changed from 2010:

Real household income

That’s 13 years of almost zero per capita income growth.


New data from the OECD, published by The AFR, shows that Australian households have suffered the biggest fall in real per capita household disposable income of any advanced economy over the past year:

Real household disposable income

“In the 12 months to June, Australian household incomes slumped 5.1 per cent, the sharpest fall recorded across the OECD”, The AFR reports.


“The outcome was in contrast to the OECD as a whole, where living standards increased 2.6% as countries including the United States, the United Kingdom and France recorded real income gains”.

“The decline means Australian real household incomes are now just 18% higher than in 2007, compared with 22 per cent across the OECD as a whole”.

Per capita household disposable income

“Deloitte Access Economics lead partner Pradeep Philip said… Australia’s 2.2% population growth rate explained about one-third of the decline in per capita incomes”.

The situation facing Australian households will continue to worsen, given housing debt servicing costs were already at record highs before Tuesday’s rate hike:

Housing debt servicing cost

Australian households also face an extended period of real income cuts as wages continue to lag inflation.

Unemployment will also rise as record labour supply via immigration meets lower labour demand as the economy continues to slow.


Australians, therefore, face an ongoing decline in living standards amid a deep per capita recession, falling real wages, soaring mortgage repayments and rents, and crush-loaded housing, infrastructure, and services.

No amount of Jim Chalmers spin can polish this economic turd.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.