SACOSS contributes original research in relation to waged poor households, and particularly around struggles with affordability of essential services like energy and telecommunications.
In 2019 the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network funded a study of telecommunications affordability for waged poor households, which was completed in July 2020 and is available below, along with complementary resources to understand the issues further.
- Download the Full Report: Connectivity Costs II: Telecommunications Affordability and Waged Poor Households
- Download the Side Report: Paying to Work: Employment Issues in SACOSS’ Telecommunications Affordability and Waged Poor Households Report
- Download Infographics on Waged Poverty in Australia and Waged Poverty and Telecommunications Affordability
- Download and listen to Rhonda's Story (9 MB file)
- Download and listen to Adam's Story (9MB file)
In 2018 Energy Consumers Australia funded a SACOSS study of energy affordability for waged poor households, which was completed in 2019 and is available below.
- Download the Summary Report: Working to Make Ends Meet: Low-income Workers and Energy Bill Stress Summary Report
- Download the Full Report: Working to Make Ends Meet: Low-income Workers and Energy Bill Stress Full Report
While noting that the terminology may be problematic (there is no agreed term or definition in the literature), SACOSS defines “waged poor” households as those living below the poverty line (50% of median equivalised household disposable income) whose main source of household income is wages and salaries. The Australian minimum wage is above the poverty line for a single person, but waged poverty can arise from:
- low wages, and lack of leave and other entitlements;
- irregular and insufficient work hours;
- a large number of dependents relying on a wage;
- a combination of any of the above.
SACOSS research using the 2015-16 ABS Household Expenditure Survey found that there were 249,818 waged poor households in Australia equating to 23.8% of households in poverty and accounting for 685,744 people. That is, around one-quarter of all households below the poverty line had wages as their main source of income.
By comparison with other households below the poverty line, waged poor households are likely to be:
- larger (2.7 people per household vs 1.9 for other households in poverty);
- couples or couples with children (55% of all waged poor households);
- renting (65% of waged poor households);
- spending more on telecommunications (5.9% of their income); and
- less likely to seek support from charities and non-government organisations (less than 1% of waged poor households sought such support).