Economists call for Australian gov't intervention to boost wages

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-19 13:28:28|Editor: Xiaoxia
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CANBERRA, March 19 (Xinhua) -- A coalition of Australia's leading lawyers, economists and labor market researchers have urged the government to take policy action to boost wage growth.

In an open letter published by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on Tuesday, the 124 experts called for the government to adopt measures that would raise minimum wages, strengthen collective bargaining, relax wage caps on public sector workers and tackle pay inequity.

"If those proposals are implemented, in whole or in part, we expect they would support a moderate but meaningful improvement in wage growth in future years, lifting wage increases back above consumer price inflation and towards traditional benchmarks (of 3.5 percent to 4 percent per year)," the letter said.

"The consequences of this unusually slow wage growth are many and varied, and include weaker consumer spending, greater household indebtedness and financial stress, slower growth in government revenues, and widening inequality."

The Reserve Bank of Australia and Treasury have advocated faster wages growth to boost the Australian economy.

However, some business groups have argued that legislating increased growth would come at the cost of jobs, an argument that the experts' letter said was "puzzling and confusing."

"There is a growing consensus among labor market analysts and practitioners that wages today in Australia are too low, not too high," it said.

"Hence Australia's economic prospects would be enhanced by policies to boost wage growth."

With wages set to be a key issue in the lead-up to May's general election, Opposition Australian Labor Party leader Bill Shorten has promised to lift the minimum wage above the current 18.93 Australian dollars (13.43 U.S. dollars) per hour.