Media Release

Huge gap still exists between the rich and poor post-WA resources boom

The poorest 20 per cent of households in WA hold a mere 0.8 per cent of the State’s total net wealth despite end of the resources boom
ContactsAlan Duncan, Director
Kelly Pohatu, Events and Communications Officer
Published20 October 2016

Despite the tailing off of the resources boom, there is still a huge gap between the rich and poor in Western Australia, according to findings in a new Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) report.

Back to the Future is the eighth report in the Centre’s Focus on Western Australia series. Using the latest data available, this report examines recent changes in the State’s economic trends following the tailing off of the resources boom.

The report shows while income inequality has fallen slightly, there continues to be significant inequality in the distribution of household net wealth.

The wealthiest 20 per cent of WA households hold almost two-thirds of the State’s total net household wealth. In contrast, the poorest 20 per cent of households hold a mere 0.8 per cent of the State’s household wealth.

Professor Alan Duncan, BCEC Director, said a quarter of single women in WA did not currently hold any superannuation assets, compared to only one in ten men and this had created a noticeable and persistent gender wealth gap.

“There are also strong signals emanating from the labour market that career pathways will be less straightforward. For the first time since 2006, WA’s unemployment rate has surpassed the nation’s,” Professor Duncan said.

“Further, the report found the under-employment ratio has risen in WA more rapidly than in other states and territories, increasing from 6 per cent in 2011 to 10 per cent in 2016.

“Labour demand has also been decreasing with the WA Internet Vacancy Index recently falling below the national rate.

“More West Australians will need to hold multiple jobs at any point in time to make up preferred work hours and multiple job turnovers and career shifts before retirement would not be unusual,” Professor Duncan said.

“Mining continues to be the primary contributor to the State’s economic output after the boom, despite the mining labour force shrinking by 20 per cent over the last three years.

“On the other hand, the employment share of the health care and social assistance industry has grown.

“After a prolonged period of economic growth driven by the resources boom, WA’s economic trajectory has returned to a ‘new normal’ which is more consistent with national economic growth rates.

“A key consideration is whether we have the right policy settings in place to manage the future of work which is increasingly precarious,” Professor Duncan said.