Remuneration Trends and Insights

Quarterly Remuneration Trends

Mercer’s Quarterly Remuneration Trends looks at Australia remuneration and the jobs market for the previous quarter.



Quarterly Remuneration Trends – Q1 2021



Movements decreased to 1.8% at the median in the first quarter of 2021

Para-professionals received the highest increases at 1.9%

Employees in South Australia received increases at the national median

The life sciences industry passed on the highest movements overall

Companies with parent locations in the United Kingdom recorded the highest increases


Reported throughout this article is the Employment Cost (EC) remuneration aggregate. Commonly referred to as ‘total package’ or ‘fixed remuneration’, Employment Cost includes base salary, cash allowances, benefits and fringe benefits tax (FBT), but excludes variable reward.


Mercer’s remuneration database operates on a rolling basis, with organisations providing remuneration data submissions throughout the year. As a result, each quarter we share the overall remuneration trends in addition to industry-specific results for those sectors for which reportable data is available.

The trends reported here are based on analysis of cross-industry roles included in Mercer's remuneration databases i.e. those roles that are commonly found across all organisations. As a result, some industry specific specialisations are excluded from the analysis.


All-data movements

According to Mercer’s database, the median employment cost movement for same incumbents (the same people in the same role at the same organisations) in the general market decreased to 1.8% over the first quarter of 2021. It is worth nothing the data reported here covers the period of 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, when the effects of the pandemic were influencing the economy.


Due to the ongoing pandemic, Mercer Australia paused remuneration forecasts from 1 April 2020. Our databases published prior to this date are still effective as of the dates published, though we advise against projecting (i.e. 'aging') market remuneration data past 1 April 2020 given current levels of economic uncertainty.


Source: Mercer's remuneration database



Distribution of increases

Source: Mercer's remuneration database



Whilst the overall median same-incumbent fixed pay movement has decreased on the previous quarter to 1.8%, there has been a broader range of increases passed on by organisations in our database. As the figure shows, 17.5% of same-incumbent increases recorded in Mercer’s database to the end of March have been between 2% and 2.99%, with a further 26.6% receiving increases of 3% or higher, while 29.2% of incumbents received zero increase.


When looked at by industry, the majority of incumbents in our database from most sectors received median increases of between 1% and 3%. The mining sector had the highest proportion of incumbents receiving increases greater than 5%. On the other side of the spectrum the construction/engineering sector received the highest proportion of zero increases (salary freezes).



Career stream movements


The staff categoy that recorded the highest median EC movements this quarter was para-professionals reporting 1.9%. Head of organisation, management and professional career levels all reported movements of 1.8%, while executives reported 1.7%.

Source: Mercer's remuneration database



Location movements


Employees in South Australia recorded the highest median EC increase at 2%. Victoria recorded median increases of 1.8%, while employees in all other locations received movements below the general market movement. The Northern Territory recorded a median EC movement of 0%.

Source: Mercer's remuneration database



Job family movements


Roles in the retail job family were awarded the highest increases with a median movement of 2.7%. At the opposite end of the scale, the outsourcing and global capability centers job family recorded the lowest median movement at 0.2%. 

Source: Mercer's remuneration database



Industry movements


The life science industry recorded the highest median movement over the first quarter of 2021 at 2.7%. Conversely, the industry sectosr passing on the lowest increases this quarter was  and construction/engineering where the median movement was zero.

Source: Mercer's remuneration database



Movements by parent location


Organisations with their parent company located in the United Kingdom recorded the highest median movements at 2.55%, followed by those with a parent company located in Asia at 2%, while Australian headquartered organisations reported the lowest median movement across the first quarter of 2021 at 1.6%.

Source: Mercer's remuneration database

Disclaimer: While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no warranty is given in respect thereof.


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