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Migrants’ Incomes Revealed

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has published data comparing migrants’ incomes for the first time. The data relates to migrants aged 15 years and older who arrived in Australia after January 2000 and compares their incomes for the 2009-2010 year.

For the that year, the median employee income of all migrants was $37,043. The total average income of the Australian population was higher than migrant’s total average income except for in Queensland and Tasmania. In the ACT this difference was the largest with migrants earning on average $12,177 below Australian taxpayers. In addition, while 10% of Australian taxpayers earn less than $22,229, one-third of migrants fall into this category.

Migrants on all visas reported lower median employee incomes in their first 1-2 years in Australia than in later years. The employee incomes of those on a Skilled Visa increased steadily for their first 7 years in Australia, the median peaking at $51,283. The employee income for those on a family stream visas reached a median high of $36,304 after about 6 years of residency and the employee incomes of those on humanitarian visas reached a median peak of $24,821 after about 5 years of residency.

The highest proportion of migrants who paid taxes in 2009-10 come from the following 5 countries: the United Kingdom, India, China, South Africa and the Philippines. Migrants from the UK generated the highest median employee incomes ($55,792) closely followed by South Africa ($55,587) and Zimbabwe ($53,295). Migrants from these countries also spoke English well, very well or only spoke English at home. This is consistent with previous findings that there is a gap in earnings between those who are proficient in the main language of a migrant country compared to those who have poor proficiency in that language.

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