Australia’s lowest-paid workers are about to find out what size pay rise they will get.

The Fair Work Commission will hand down its annual wage review decision online at 10am AEST on Friday.

Last year the national minimum wage rose by $21.60 to $740.80 a week.

The commission’s decision directly affects 2.24 million low-paid workers and indirectly affects many more.

The three per cent increase in 2019 was lower than 2018’s 3.5 per cent rise and 2017’s 3.3 per cent.

Peak union body the ACTU has argued for a four per cent rise this year.

Business groups have argued the minimum wage should be frozen until mid-2021 to enable people impacted by the coronavirus-driven downturn to find jobs.


Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter opposes any substantial increase to what is already the world’s highest minimum wage.

The government’s submission cited research showing the job impacts of the minimum wage were most likely to be felt by young people and the low-skilled, and such risks were more pronounced during economic downturns.

Federal government figures show new enterprise bargaining agreements concluded in the December quarter were struck at an average annualised growth rate of 2.7 per cent for a second quarter in a row.

Agreements in the private sector also remained at a rate of 2.7 per cent, while those in the public sector eased to 2.5 per cent from 2.6 per cent.

The unemployment rate for May spiked to its highest level in nearly two decades at 7.1 per cent, as a further 227,700 people lost their job.

May’s monthly drop in the number of people employed is the second-largest on record, after nearly 600,000 were sacked in April.


Meanwhile, Western Australia has recorded the nation’s biggest spike in unemployment –  jumping 8.1 per cent in May, up from 6.1 per cent in April, amid continued fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. It equates to a loss of more than 30,000 jobs.