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6301.0 - Average Weekly Earnings, Australia, Preliminary, Nov 2000  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/02/2001   
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MEDIA RELEASE

February 05, 2001
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
10/2001

Wage Cost Index replaces Average Weekly Earnings as ABS principal wages indicator

In a move designed to increase the focus on its Wage Cost Index series for the tracking of wage and salary movements, and reduce the focus on its Average Weekly Earnings series, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today announced changes to the publication schedules for these statistics.

The ABS has brought forward the timing of its Wage Cost Index publication and will cease the production of its preliminary Average Weekly Earnings statistics. The final Average Weekly Earnings publication will continue to be released each quarter to its current timetable.

Australian Statistician, Dennis Trewin, said the initiative was taken because he was concerned about the attention that was being given to the Average Weekly Earnings series as indicators of change in wage rates.

"Although they are often used that way, the Average Weekly Earnings series are significantly affected by changes in the composition of the work force which undermine their use as indicators of change in wage rates," he said.

"While the Average Weekly Earnings series continue to provide a reliable measure of the average wage bill, because they reflect factors such as the upward shift in the skill level of the work force, they do not represent changes in wage costs on a 'constant quality' basis.

"The Average Weekly Earnings series can also be affected by the rolling-in of some entitlements into wages and salaries as a result of some workplace agreements."

Mr Trewin said the Wage Cost Index series (cat. no. 6345.0) provide each quarter direct measures of change in wage and salary rates on a 'constant quality' basis and are, in his opinion, far superior measures of this change.

"The publication timetable for the Wage Cost Index will be brought forward from the March quarter 2001 issue (due out on 16 May 2001) so that it will become the first quarterly release on wage movements," he said.

The preliminary Average Weekly Earnings series (cat. no.6301.0) will be discontinued after the November 2000 issue, which will be released on 9 February 2001. The final Average Weekly Earnings publication (cat. no.6302.0) will continue to be released - the November 2000 issue will be released on 1 March 2001, and the February 2001 issue on 17 May 2001, one day after the Wage Cost Index publication.

The changes that are being made relate to the publication of these statistical series only. The source collections will continue in the same way and the same level of statistical detail will be available as now.

Mr Trewin advised that the Average Weekly Earnings series will continue, as they are useful for analysis purposes, and are frequently used for indexation and contract escalation.

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