ORANGE, AAP – Retail workers say they are struggling with the rising cost of living, at a time when their wages are injecting billions of dollars into regional economies.

The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) is joining calls for a five per cent wage increase for low-paid workers, citing a new report that shows retail earnings add $15.7 billion to regional and rural Australia every year.

The report, by think tank Per Capita, says retail wages contribute $302 million per week to regional and rural economies, and workers are more likely to spend their money locally.

Retail workers earn just above the minimum wage of $20.33, with hourly full-time rates between $22.33 and $27.32, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The ACTU has been calling for a five per cent increase to the minimum wage as pay rates are lagging behind projected inflation.


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SDA general secretary Gerard Dwyer said a wage increase of five per cent is reasonable after several years of working at the frontline of the pandemic.

“This would be a real shot in the arm for regional economies because retail is one of the cornerstones of regional economic activity,” Mr Dwyer told AAP.

“A reasonable wage increase will be the best, the fairest and most significant stimulus that could be provided right now.”