Financialisation and the Productivity Slowdown

There has been much discussion in recent months about the apparent slowdown in Australian productivity growth. Rather than dredging up the usual wish-list of the business community (more deregulation, more privatisation, and more deunionisation), it's time to look at the deeper, structural factors behind stagnant productivity. In this commentary, Dr. Anis Chowdhury, Associate of the Centre for Future Work, looks to the perverse role of our overdeveloped financial sector in slowing down productivity-enhancing investment and innovation.

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The Long-Term Costs of Frozen Wages

New research from the Centre for Future Work has dramatised the lasting consequences for workers' lifetime incomes – even after they retire – of wage freezes.

A wage freeze is often described as a "temporary sacrifice," that supposedly ends once normal annual wage increments are restored. However, this report confirms that the legacy of even a temporary pay freeze is a permanent reduction in lifetime incomes and superannuation, which can easily ultimately result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost income. These long-term effects are illustrated with reference to a real-world example: an 18-month pay freeze imposed on workers at Jetstar in 2014-2016.

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Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

In a new guest commentary for the journal Canadian Dimension, Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford argues that existing power relationships in the labour market are being reinforced, more than disrupted, by the process of technological change.

Stanford highlights seven ways in which the nature of work and employment is demonstrating a fundamental continuity, despite changes in technology and work organisation: ranging from the predominance of wage labour in the economy, to employers' continuing interest in extracting maximum labour effort for the least possible labour cost.

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Seminar Presentation: Superannuation & Wages in Australia

Centre for Future Work Director Jim Stanford gave a seminar presentation in Sydney on 21 November based on his research paper about the historical and empirical relationship between superannuation contributions and wage growth. Watch a summary version of his talk below. The full paper is posted at: The Relationship Between Superannuation Contributions and Wages in Australia.


Tax Cuts Invisible in Slowing Economy

The latest economic statistics have confirmed that Australia's economy is barely limping along - with quarterly GDP growth of just 0.4%. One of the weakest spots in the report was consumer spending, which recorded its weakest performance since December 2008 (amidst the worst days of the Global Financial Crisis). This was despite the supposed benefit of recent Commonwealth government tax cuts in boosting disposable income and stimulating more spending.

Analysis from Dr. Jim Stanford shows that the tax cut is in fact completely invisible in the macroeconomic data.

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Reports from the Front Lines of the NDIS

The national roll-out of the NDIS holds the prospect of a significant enhancement in both the resources allocated to disability services in Australia, and the autonomy and flexibility of service delivery for people with disability. But it also constitutes an enormous logistical and organisational challenge. And the market-based service delivery model built into the NDIS is exacerbating those challenges, by unleashing a widespread fragmentation and casualisation of work in disability services.

In this new report, researchers document the experience of front-line disability service workers under the NDIS based on first-hand qualitative interviews.

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Go Home on Time Day: Wednesday 20 November, 2019

Wednesday 20 November is the 11th annual "Go Home on Time Day," sponsored by the Centre for Future Work and the Australia Institute.

It's a light-hearted effort, once per year, to remind Australians of the value of leisure time – and to push back against the increasingly common expectation that workers should put in extra hours for their employers, without pay.

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Abandoning Super Increases Won't Boost Wages

New research from the Centre for Future Work shows that scheduled increases in employers’ minimum statutory superannuation contributions would have no negative effects on future wage growth, and that Australia’s economy can afford both higher wages and higher employer contributions to superannuation.

The research refutes claims made by some commentators and lobbyists that higher superannuation contributions would automatically lead to lower wages, and hence would be self-defeating. The new research finds no statistical evidence for that claim in Australian empirical data.

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Deliberate Policy to Maintain Unemployment Exacts a Huge Toll

For the last generation macroeconomic policy in Australia has been based on the assumption that unemployment must be maintained at a certain minimum level in order to restrain wages and prevent an outbreak of accelerating inflation. Now, after six years of record-low wage growth – which weakened even further in the latest ABS wage statistics – it is time for that policy to be abandoned.

In a comprehensive critique of unemployment and monetary policy in Australia, Senior Research Fellow David Richardson shows there is no stable statistical basis for the assumption that inflation will accelerate without end if unemployment falls below its so-called "natural" or "non-accelerating inflation rate" (NAIRU, commonly thought to be around 5%). And the economic and social costs of deliberately maintaining high unemployment are very large.

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Vital Signs: Indicators of Gender Inequality in Australia

The Centre for Future Work has partnered with HESTA, the industry super fund for workers in health care and community services, to prepare a comprehensive report on the economic and social status of women in Australia today. The report shows that while progress has been made in some key areas, women continue to confront systematic barriers to their full participation in paid work, fair pay, retirement security, safety, and recognition.

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