What Role do Safety Net Wage Adjustments Play in Alleviating Household Need?

Joshua Healy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    The strength of the relationship between low wages and household needs has become an important measure of the effectiveness of Australia's employment safety net. This paper reviews the recent treatment of the needs issue in safety net wage cases of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, and provides a statistical analysis of data from two nationwide household surveys. I develop a method of identifying low-wage earners in sectors with high award reliance, and use it to describe the characteristics of their households. The workers of interest are predominantly found in households near the middle of the income distribution, rather than at the bottom end, because they typically live with other, higher-paid workers. The minority living in single-income households are more likely to be below the median income and to experience financial stress. A safety net maintained partly on the basis of a 'needs' criterion should be especially focused on the circumstances and prospects of this single-income group.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)169-192
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


    • Australia
    • living standards
    • minimum wages
    • needs
    • safety net


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