Good news, Australians have seen their incomes steadily rise over the years. But have these gains been evenly distributed?
An Australian household's average gross disposable income has risen 58 percent between 2003-04 and 2011-12, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
For those keeping up with home loan repayments and everyday bills, this may come as positive news.
What's happening with incomes?
All household incomes grew over this period, the ABS noted. But, it was the highest income quintile that experienced the greatest degree of growth (62 percent).
The remaining three quintiles saw income increased of over 50 percent.
"[W]e now have an indication of which household groups are driving the growth in income, consumption, savings and wealth in the national accounts," said the ABS' Amanda Senevirante.
What's causing the growth?
The ABS identified wage and salary growth as the single most significant contributor to the increase in gross disposable income.
But there was an exception to this finding — salary and wage growth was not the biggest income growth contributor in the lowest income quintile. Rather, it was social assistance benefits.
With regards to employment, the ABS identified earlier this month that the number of employed persons increased 1.2 percent year-on-year to September in trend terms. The unemployment rate was steady at six percent.
Which households are driving growth?
The types of households contributing to income growth were also identified by the ABS. In fact, this marks the first instance the ABS has presented time series data for Australia's various household groups under the national accounts framework.
"For example, we can see that households with two adults and dependent children were responsible for about one-third of the growth in household gross disposable income", Senevirante stated.
She continued: "[H]ouseholds where the reference person was aged 35 to 44 years had an increase in income tax of $9000 – with their payments going from $17,000 in 2003-04 to $26,000 in 2011-12 – which was above the average increase of $4,500".
Is there some way to go?
The increase in household income may be welcomed by those looking to pay off credit card debt or work out their borrowing capacity for a property upgrade.
But research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development paints a different picture. Australia has scooped up the number one position for regional inequality in household income in the OECD Regional Outlook 2014.
"The OECD recommends better management of urban areas, where two in three people live, as a way to improve prosperity and reduce inequalities," the OECD said.
Families with home loans and credit cards may consider running a comparison to ensure they're getting a good deal and keeping their household costs down.
Should you protect your income?
Earlier in the week RateCity reported that a mere 16 percent of Australia’s working population currently have a median level of income protection insurance. A scary fact considering the average couple, based on both parents aged 40 with children, would need 10 times their current annual salary in insurance to cover their debts and maintain their current living standards if they were stuck down ill or injured and unable to work.
So despite steady income rises for the Australian population it’s still important to prepare for the not so prosperous days. Consider what you would do if the salary-earner in your family become ill and unable to bring in an income. If you would be in strife, perhaps it’s time to start looking at income protection insurance options.