What HILDA has to tell us about income, poverty and welfare in our cities

HILDA is a national survey that has
tracked households in every city since 2001, measuring income, poverty and
welfare reliance among a variety of other indicators. But for the first time this year the report breaks down that data to city and regional levels. Let’s start with income. As we can see every city enjoyed healthy increases through to about 2009, around the time the global financial crisis hit. From then on every where but Perth either plateaued or actually went down. We’ve left Darwin and Canberra
off the chart here as the HILDA release doesn’t separate their data out. Sydney faired the worst from this impact with only 13.5 percent growth from 2001 to
2015. dropping from the wealthiest mainland
capital to the third last. Urban Tasmania, which groups all of Tasmania’s urban
areas together, remains at the bottom of the pack, but it still experienced a
growth of 21.2% overall, despite a post-2010 downturn. Perth incomes, meanwhile,
have exploded with a growth of 52.4%. So what about poverty? It’s mostly good news. The percentage of people in income poverty, those with incomes less than 50%
of the median income, has decreased overall and across all cities. Adelaide had the biggest change, with a drop of 8% over the 14-year period. Urban Tasmania maintains the highest percentage of people in poverty but has
experienced a decrease from almost 21% of the population to 15%. Sydney’s flatlining incomes, however, have also translated to its income poverty
rate, with a decrease of only 1.2% across the period. And that’s also playing out in its welfare reliance. Sydney is the only capital city that has
seen welfare reliance increase since 2001 with most others experiencing
moderate decreases. And Adelaide and Perth seeing the biggest change.

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