…Australians really had never been better off…
From The Australian, March 24 2008
…The findings of the first study to track changes to income and wealth in the same group of people cast a new light on one of Kevin Rudd’s central themes in opposition – that in John Howard’s “brutopia” the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer.
During last year’s election campaign Mr Rudd described working families as the “forgotten people” but the new research appears to paint a contrary picture.
Since 2001, earnings for those at the bottom of the ladder rose more sharply than for those near the top – the top 10 per cent suffering a slight fall from 2001 to 2006.
While the rise in overall wealth favoured the top end – primarily due to higher property ownership – increases to lower end incomes meant the rich haven’t skated away from the poor.
…The data comes from the Federal Government’s Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, a longitudinal study of 14,000 people nationwide, which is managed by the institute…
The data, compiled by the Institute’s Roger Wilkins, shows median incomes – after adjusting for inflation – for those in the lowest 10 per cent of households increased 29 per cent after tax to about $26,000.
The top 10 per cent saw their income fall by 2.5 per cent to $138,000.
Wealth for the median household has risen rapidly since the turn of the century, from $215,000 to $340,000, fuelled by the property boom and a 51per cent increase in average superannuation balances to $123,000.
For the bottom 10 per cent, wealth rose from $114,000 to $175,000.
For the top 10 per it rose from $770,000 to $975,000.
Too late for “I told you so’s” I guess, but still a feather in Howard’s cap. And Costello’s. I have the feeling that in years to come, there will be a general consensus that the Howard/Costello era really was something special.