The decision by the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) to maintain minimum wages at current levels will protect jobs and support stronger economic recovery.
Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans said Australia’s federal minimum wage left unchanged at $543.78 per week, together with the RBA’s decision to hold interest rates, would give much needed incentive to employers to retain staff. 
“Although there are signs of economic recovery including the stronger Australian dollar and slow and steady retail trade growth, any minimum wage increase wouldn’t have been readily absorbed by retail employers who have struggled with reduced consumer demand over the past 12 months,” said Evans.
In its submission to the AFPC the ARA strongly recommended a ‘nil increase’ in the federal minimum wage for 2009 as Australian employers and employees are still experiencing a difficult economic climate.
“Retailers are confident other stimulus measures including substantial interest rate reductions, tax cuts and the Rudd Government’s cash handouts would provide consumers with the cash and confidence to re-enter the market and allow funds to flow through the rest of the economy,” said Evans.
Consumers are beginning to inject funds back into the retail market. This is good news for the rest of the economy that typically lags three to six months behind, but this is not the time to be placing extra pressure on employers wanting to hold onto staff. 
“The landmark decision to leave minimum wages unchanged places pressure on state wage cases, due to hand down decisions in the coming months, to look to the AFPC as a role model and follow suit.
“The ARA is now calling on Fair Work Australia to consider the economic circumstances, unemployment rates, as well as any impact of Modern Awards when they review the minimum wage next year,” said Evans.