Migrants helping to drive Australia’s economy – ABS data
Newly released data shows migrants are making a more significant contribution than ever to the Australian economy.
The data, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that the median employee income of all migrant taxpayers in 2016-17 was $49,438, slightly higher than the median employee income for all Australian taxpayers, which is workers $49,412.
Skilled migrants had a median employee income of $59,304, well above the median income for all Australians, while humanitarian migrants had a median employee income of $32,792.
The ABS statistics show Australia’s 1.9 million migrant taxpayers generated $112.3 billion in total personal income in 2016-17, an increase on the total of 7 per cent on 2015/16.
They show that 61 per cent of migrant taxpayers held a skilled visa and they reported $81 billion in total personal income, an increase of 5.8 per cent in real terms on 2015-16.
Migrant taxpayers with family visas reported $25 billion in total income, and were most commonly born in the United Kingdom (13 per cent) and China (12 per cent).
The data also showed that migrants with humanitarian visas reported just $3.4 billion in total income and had a median employee income of $32,792, well below the Australian taxpayer median employee income.
But the statistic also show that humanitarian entrants, or refugees, were significant earners in small business.
Humanitarian (or refugee) migrant taxpayers had the highest median own unincorporated business income of migrant taxpayers ($16,852).
Migrants from the five most common countries of birth made up over half of migrant taxpayers and together generated 54 per cent ($60 billion) of total income: 19 per cent United Kingdom ($21 billion); 16 per cent India ($18 billion); 8 per cent China ($9.0 billion); 5.7 per cent South Africa ($6.4 billion); and, 5.1 per cent Philippines ($5.7 billion).
Migrant taxpayers born in the United Kingdom and South Africa reported higher proportions of investment income relative to their population size than migrants from the other top five countries of birth.
Thirteen per cent of migrant taxpayers born in the United Kingdom reported 25 per cent of total investment income ($781 million).
And 4.2 per cent of migrant taxpayers born in South Africa reported 11 per cent of total investment income ($343 million).
Skilled migrants were most commonly employed in the following broad occupation groups: 35 percent professionals (19 per cent males, 16 per cent females); 13 per cent managers (8.4 per cent of males, 4.7 per cent females); 11 per cent technicians and trades workers (9.5 per cent males, 1.9 per cent females); 10 per cent clerical and administrative workers (3.2% males, 6.7% females).
The highest median employee incomes of skilled migrant taxpayers were for the following occupations: medical practitioners ($148,357); ICT managers ($117,502); stationary plant operators ($106,659); and, construction, distribution and production managers ($105,501).
The most commonly held occupations of refugee employees were: cleaners and laundry workers (6.1 per cent of refugee employees) who earned $151.6 million in employee income; personal carers and assistants (5.7 per cent of refugee employees) who earned $209.7 million in employee income; food process workers (5.2 per cent of refugee employees) who earned $158.3 million in employee income; and sales assistants and salespersons (3.2 per cent of refugee employees) who earned $70.4 million in employee income.
The highest median employee incomes of refugee taxpayers were for: medical practitioners ($111,873); ICT managers ($92,229); defence force members, fire fighters and police ($75,267); and, business and systems analysts, and programmers ($67,352).
CEO of migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia Cath Scarth said that the data made clear the contributions migrants and refugees were making to Australia’s economy.
But she said it did not measure the contributions made by new arrivals in terms of cultural richness, innovation and problem solving.
“We know from working with refugees and migrants that they bring with them innovative thinking, a knowledge of global markets and a lot of get up and go. So there’s an added dividend to our migration system that simple statistics do not capture,” Ms Scarth said.