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Friday, 3 December 1976
Page: 3280

Mr Hurford (ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations upon notice:

Can he say what is the average wage rate and average earnings, or the closest equivalent to the average wage rate and average earnings figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, m each OECD country.

Mr Street - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The ABS publishes weighted average minimum weekly and hourly wage rates separately for adult males and adult females, together with an index, base year 1954 = 100, which merely indicates growth since the base year.

The OECD publishes no statistics in absolute money terms on average wage rates and average earnings in member countries.

Definitions and norms used by the statistical authorities in OECD countries to gather data on wage rates vary considerably and, quite apart from this, compilation of comparative date of actual money wage rates has been regarded as having limited value because the factors affecting the level of wages differ markedly from country to country.

In light of these practical difficulties, one effective alternative method of providing comparative data on wages in member countries adopted by the OECD has been the measurement of movements in average earnings for each member country on the basis of percentage changes over time.

The OECD releases this information in two publications: the biannual Economic Outlook (latest available July 1976): and the monthly Main Economic Indicators (latest available October 1976). The attached table is compiled from data contained in the latest editions of these two publications.

It sets out percentage changes in earnings in the manufacturing industry for each OECD country covering the period 1964-1976. The footnotes indicate that, despite the fact the heading to the table refers to 'hourly earnings', the data is not in all cases based on actual hourly rates for all countries.

It should also be noted that these rates are for the manufacturing industry only, data for all industries not being available.


(a)   Monthly earnings

(   b) Hourly rates for actual data

(c)   Weekly earnings

(d)   Hourly rates in manufacturing and construction for actual data.

Sources: OECD 'Main Economic Indicators', October 1 976; OECD 'Economic Outlook ', July 1 976.

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