Workers returning to offices, but more progress needed
The Hobart and Darwin CBDs are close to pre-pandemic office occupancy rates, but the Melbourne and Sydney city centres are still lagging.
The amount of office space that was occupied in the Hobart and Darwin CBDs in May was 93% of the level before the pandemic.
Four other capitals were about three-quarters of the way towards returning to pre-pandemic levels — Adelaide at 78%, Perth at 77%, and Brisbane and Canberra at 71%.
The story was different in Melbourne and Sydney, although there has been considerable improvement throughout the year.
In Melbourne, the amount of office space being used compared to before the pandemic was 34% in January and 45% in May. In Sydney, the rate climbed from 50% to 68%.
Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said higher CBD occupancy rates are essential to Australia’s economic recovery. “Our CBDs support millions of jobs and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity. We need them firing on all cylinders,” he said.
How much money do you need in retirement?
The superannuation industry’s peak body has crunched the numbers and calculated how much money Australians are likely to spend in retirement.
Annual expenses vary depending on your age and whether you want to live a ‘modest’ or ‘comfortable’ retirement, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia.
A ‘modest’ lifestyle is considered better than the age pension, but allows only fairly basic activities. A ‘comfortable’ lifestyle allows the retiree to be involved in a broader range of activities, travel overseas and buy more household goods.
At the moment, the ‘superannuation guarantee’ is 9.5% — i.e. employers must pay workers super equivalent to 9.5% of their regular salary. That’s scheduled to rise to 10% on 1 July 2021, and then steadily increase to 12% by 1 July 2025.
Unemployment is trending down, as wages growth trends up
Australia’s unemployment rate is now lower than before the pandemic, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The unemployment rate fell to 5.1% in May 2021 — compared to 5.3% in March 2020 (when the pandemic started) and 7.4% in July 2020 (when unemployment peaked).
Falling unemployment is good news for the economy, because more jobs tends to mean more consumer confidence and more spending.
However, a lower unemployment rate also means a more competitive jobs market, which can make it harder for employers to find workers and force them to pay those workers more.
Wages rose only 1.5% in the year to March 2021, which is historically low. However, wages rose 0.6% in both the December 2020 and March 2021 quarters, which suggests wages might be trending up.
Showrooms, warehouses and medical centres in high demand
Businesses are showing growing interest in leasing commercial property, although the level of demand varies significantly from sector to sector.
The number of ‘Lease’ searches on realcommercial.com.au in May was the second-highest on record and 16% higher than the year before.
The annual change in ‘Lease’ searches for each sector was:
Showrooms = +70%
Warehouses = +68%
Medical = +62%
Offices = +56%
Land = +53%
Retail = +47%
Hotel / leisure = +33%
Commercial farming = -2%
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