Profile of each income group by family type

This graph shows the make-up of each income group by family type. 

2017-18: The graph shows that 42% of people in the lowest 20% income are single, either with or without children, compared with only 8% of those in the highest 20% income group. a majority of people in the lowest 20% income group are in couple families (55%).

2015-16:  The graph shows that  32% of people in the lowest 20% income group are single, either with or without children, compared with only 8% of those in the highest 20% income group. A majority of people (57%) in the lowest 20% income group are in couple families, a reflection of their greater share (64%) of the overall population.


Profile of each income group by country of birth

A clear majority of people in all income groups  were born in Australia, reflecting their high proportion (69%) of the overall population. Among those in the lowest 20% income group, 25% were born in a non English-speaking country. In contrast, 72% of those in the highest 20% were Australian born and only 15% were from non-English speaking countries.


Income distribution of people by State/Territory

This graph shows where people living in different States and Territories are placed in the household income rankings. It shows that the States with the largest populations - New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland –have a more even representation of people across the income distribution than the smaller states and territories (the exception being the high share of people in the highest 20% - 23% - living in New South Wales, most of whom are likely to live in Sydney – link to graph). The smaller States and Territories have a greater concentration of people towards the highest or lowest ends of the income spectrum. For example, 25% of people living in Tasmania and South Australia are in the lowest 20% income group, while 23% of people in Western Australia and around 30% of people in the Territories are in the highest 20% income group.

These interstate differences reflects differences in employment levels and age profiles of the populations living in each of the States and Territories.


Income distribution of people by capital city

This graph shows where people living in different capital cities are placed in the household income rankings.

People living in Sydney (28%) or Perth (25%) are more likely to be in the highest 20% income group. Conversely, residents of Adelaide (23%) were more likely to be found in the lowest 20% income group.


Income distribution of people outside capital cities

This graph shows where people living in different capital cities are placed in the household income rankings. The highest shares of non-metropolitan residents in the lowest 20% income group are found in South Australia (31%), Tasmania (30%) and Victoria (28%). Both the Australian Capital Territory (31%) and Northern Territory (30%) have relatively high shares of people in the highest 20%.


Australia’s population by labour force status

Almost two-thirds (62%) of Australia’s adult population are employed: the majority in full-time paid work (41%), but also a significant portion (21%) in part-time jobs. Just over one-third (34%) of the adult population are not in the labour force ( mainly younger and older people), while 4% of the total adult population (as distinct from the labour force) is unemployed.


Income distribution of people in households by labour force status of household reference person

This graph shows where people are placed in the household income rankings, according to whether their household reference person (usually the member with the highest income) is employed, unemployed or not in the paid workforce. People in households where the reference person is either not in the labour force or unemployed are concentrated in the lowest 20% income group. Of all people in households where the reference person is unemployed, 77% are in the lowest 20%, along with 59% where the reference person is of working age but outside the paid workforce, and 42% where the reference person is 65 years or over and retired.

On the other hand, 29% of people in households where the reference person is employed full-time are in the highest 20%. Living in a household where the reference person is employed part-time (meaning there is unlikely to be a full-time earner in the household) is no guarantee of a good household income. Of all people in these households, only 11% are found in the highest 20% and 52% are in the lowest 40%.


Profile of each income group by labour force status of household reference person

This graph shows the make-up of each income group according to whether their household reference person (usually the member with the highest income) is employed, unemployed or not in the paid workforce. Household members whose reference person is unemployed form a larger share of income groups as we move down the income scale. They represent 7% of the lowest 20% income group; 10% of the lowest 10% income group, and 13% of the lowest 5% income group.

This is echoed in households where the reference person is of working age and is not part of the paid workforce, which comprise 28% of the lowest 20% income group, 34% of the lowest 10% income group, and 35% of the lowest 5% income group.

The lowest 20% income group mainly comprises households where the reference person is out of the paid workforce: 30% where the reference person is over 64 and 28% where they are of working age. Another 20% are employed full-time, 16% are employed part-time, and the remaining 7% are unemployed.

In contrast, 87% people in the highest 20% live in households whose  reference persons is employed full-time.


Population by main source of household income

This chart shows the main sources of household income in Australia.

2019-20: Wages and salaries were the largest income source (77% of all income), followed by investment and other income (10%), social security payments, including Family Tax Benefits (8%), and own-business income (4%).

2017-18: The main source of household income is wages and salaries, at 75%. Of the remainder, 8% are social security payments, 5% self employed and 12% from other sources (mainly investments).

2015-16: For most people in Australia, the main source of household income is wages and salaries, at 69%. Of the remainder, 18% are in households relying mainly on social security payments, 5% on income from self-employment and 8% from other sources (mainly investments).


Income distribution of people in households by main income source

This graph shows where people are placed in the household income rankings, according to their household’s main source of income in 2015-16 and 2017-18.
Social security payments include pensions, allowances and family payments.

2017-18: The graph shows that the highest 20% income group receives two-thirds of all investment income and a substantial share of own-business income and wages (48% and 44% respectively). At the other end of the scale, the lowest 20% receives over a third of all social security income (38%).

2015-16: The graph shows that 65% of people in households that mainly rely on social security payments are concentrated in the lowest 20% income group. In contrast, people in households relying mainly on wages or salaries are more likely to be found at the higher end of the distribution (with 51% in the highest 40% income group). Households whose main income is from an unincorporated business are more likely (27%) to belong to the lowest 20% income group. It should be noted however that incomes from self-employment are more likely than other forms of income to be under-reported or uncertain due to the difficulty in distinguishing between personal and business income for this group. For more information, see ABS (2017): Household Income and Wealth, Australia, Explanatory notes