They call it HILDA – the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia report that gives us a snapshot of how our families are faring.

The answer this week is: not very well at all.

The typical Australian family takes home less pay today than it did eight years ago. This at a time when housing has never been less affordable.

Our only saving grace is that inflation is low.

HILDA has been conducted every year since 2001 by returning to the same 17,300 people and tracking changes in their lives.

Here’s what we learned this year:

👎 Bad News

Real household disposable income peaked just before the global financial crisis at $77,411 but then dropped in 2010 and 2011 to $73,531. It did climb back to $77,143 before sliding in 2014 and 2015 to $76,225. If this doesn’t sound like you, that’s because half of Australia’s households would have earned more than $76,225, and half less.

Sydney experienced the weakest wages growth of any region in Australia, where the typical household income climbed just $5182. Melbourne income climbed $9785. Perth household incomes grew $19,276, making it the highest-earning Australian state capital.

👍 Good News

Fewer of us are in poverty. It is highest among older Australians women, although the report says the measure will overstate poverty when elderly Australians own their homes and don’t pay rent, as many do.

Perhaps surprisingly, it is lowest among couples with dependant children.

👎 Bad News

The average mortgage debt on home owners aged under 40 doubled between 2002 and 2014, leaving property owners more at risk than ever to rising interest rates. After taking account of inflation, the average mortgage among 18 to 39-year-olds shot up from $169,201 in 2002 to $336,586 in 2014, a rise of 99 per cent.

🤷‍♂️ Sort of good news

Sixty per cent of men aged between 22 and 25 were living in their family home two years ago, up from 43 per cent in 2001. For women in that age group, 48 per cent were living in the family home.

👎 Bad news

Home ownership among 18-39 year olds has plunged from 29.2 per cent in 2002 to 19.7 per cent in 2014 in Sydney. And those in their own homes are vulnerable. “Even small changes in interest rates will have substantial impacts on the effective income situation of many home owners aged 18 to 39,” says the Hilda report.


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