What do your postcode and job say about you?

The 36th AMP.NATSEM report - We can work it out, Australia's changing workforce - shines a light on the Australian labour force. We learn who's better off and who's not, what different professions are paying and where we're living.

The gender shift

In the past, women didn’t really count in the workforce. One hundred years ago the only occupation category with a majority of female workers was domestic work.

Today’s picture is very different. Women are earning more and occupying majorities in four of eight occupation classifications as Table 1 shows.

Table 5: Proportion of employees in each occupational classification, 2011 Census

Occupation(i) % Male % Female % Employed in this occupation
Professionals 46 54 22
Clerical and Administrative Workers 24 76 15
Technicians and Trade Workers 85 15 14
Managers 65 35 13
Community and Personal Service Workers 31 69 10
Sales Workers  38 62 10
Labourers 65 35 10
Machinery Operators and Drivers 90 10 7

(i) The ABS changed some occupational classifications between the 1991 and 2011 census. Source: 2011 Census

Note: Percentages in the third column may not add to 100% due to rounding. 

Less manual labour

The Australian labour force has undergone major structural change. There’s been a shift away from manual work towards desk-based work. And it’s had a big impact, affecting the types of people doing the work—for example, women—the skills being valued and acquired, and the money being earned.

Life in the city

In a country as large as Australia, jobs tend to be where people and businesses are. Because of changes in the types of work we’re doing, the majority of workers are in capital cities.

Young people in regional areas are increasingly attracted to city jobs, causing a general decline in rural populations and an increase in the average age of rural populations.

One noted exception is in mining areas where populations have increased due to increased work.

A matter of industry, more or less

The AMP.NATSEM report outlines the industries paying more, and less. Mining tops the list with a median income of $2,134 per week while those paid least tend to work in agriculture, forestry and fishing for around $761 per week.

Table 2: Industry by income, full time workers 2011-12


($ per week)

Median income

($ per week)


Median income

($ per week)

Mining 2,134 Construction 1,171
Electricity, gas, water and waste services 1,641 Wholesale trade 1,164
Finance and insurance services 1,466 Rental, hiring and real estate services 1,156
Professional, scientific and technical services 1,450 Arts and recreation services 1,052
Public administration and safety 1,410 Other services 971
Education and training 1,408 Administrative and support services 971
Information media and telecommunications 1,264 Retail trade 869
Transport, postal and warehousing 1,191 Accommodation and food services 865
Manufacturing 1,189 Agriculture, forestry and fishing 761
Health case and social assistance 1,177    

Source: ABS (2013d). Income is total personal gross weekly income from all sources.

The biggest earners—and the smallest

In general, professionals earn the most with gross median incomes of around $1,546 per week while labourers earn the lowest incomes at around $892 per week.

The highest paid are in medical professions—eg 88.3 per cent of anaesthetists earn over $2,000 per week.

On the other hand, lowest paid occupations include services workers with, 82.2 per cent of pharmacy sales assistants for example, earning less than $800 per week.

Table 3 Highest and lowest paid occupations, full time workers 

Rank Highest paid occupations >$2,000pw Lowest paid occupation >$2,000pw
1 Anaesthetists 88.3% Pharmacy sales assistants 82.2%
2 Surgeons 88.0% Sewing machinists 79.0%
3 Psychiatrists 82.8% Cafe workers 76.8%
4 Specialist physicians 81.4% Fast food cooks 76.3%
5 Mining engineers 75.0% Hairdressers 75.6%
6 Other medical practitioners 74.7% Waiters 75.6%
7 CEOs, GMs and legislators 74.3% Checkout operators/office cashiers 75.5%
8 Dental practitioners 71.9% Food trades assistances 74.8%
9 Medical practitioners 69.4% Laundry workers 74.6%
10 Engineering managers 65.3% Housekeepers 74.3%

Source: ABS Census 2011. Note: Since ABS Census data only provides 'ranged' data the highest and lowest paid occupations are indicated by the share of persons over or below and income threshold. The order of highest and lowest paid occupations may be different if actual incomes were available and average or median incomes were possible to calculate.

What our postcodes are saying

Incomes vary depending on job locations. Remote areas in Queensland and New South Wales for example, provide lower incomes compared to inner city areas. Again, mining is the exception with areas in Queensland—like Tieri—attracting people with incomes ranked second highest in Australia.

The postcode with the lowest income is Gwabegar in New South Wales. At the other end of the scale are Darling Point, Edgecliff and Point Piper in Sydney closely followed by Cottesloe and Peppermint Grove in Perth and Toorak in Melbourne.

What about you?

Read the latest AMP.NATSEM report to find out how your income ranks and what your postcode says about you.

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.