Hey, had a pay rise recently? Would you like one? Then why haven’t you quit your job, huh?
That’s the gist of the argument being made today in the wake of a lecture by one of the nation’s chief economic stewards, and it’s a doozy.
“More frequent job switching is associated with higher real wage growth, even for those that stay in their job,” explained Federal Treasury deputy secretary Meghan Quinn at the Economic Society of Australia’s annual conference.
And this has been spun as “stubborn workers” refusing to give up their jobs as being a bad thing. And you might think that’s a long bow to draw, that workers are to blame for the thing workers have been complaining about for years.
And here’s the thing: Treasury isn’t even wrong. However, the argument is being spun by deliberately fudging a symptom and suggesting it’s a cause.
If you’re in a thriving economy with strong employment and robust wage growth, you’re far more likely to feel secure about changing jobs since there are many opportunities to be seen.
If, however, you’ve seen wages flatline for the best part of a decade while the cost of living continues to rise, with an economy showing signs of a potential recession down the road and purported employment rises being in insecure work rather than permanent fulltime jobs, you’re more likely to hang on to what you’ve got than risk the unknown.
In other words, job switching is a sign that the economy is flourishing, not a cause of a flourishing economy.
And look, a cynic might wonder why the Treasury would be so keen to suggest that the current state of the economy was because of those struggling in it rather than, say, the government department specifically tasked with overseeing it.
Mind you, it’s just barely more plausible than the curse of an evil warlock. Maybe they’re saving that for the Mid Year Budget Review?