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Big gap between rich and poor in WA: study

AAP logoAAP 20/10/2016

The gap between the rich and the poor in Western Australia has narrowed slightly since the end of the resources boom but the divide is still substantial, new research suggests.

According to a Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre report, the incomes of the state's richest 10 per cent of households were at least five times those of the poorest 10 per cent in 2010.

By 2015, the gap had fallen to a multiple of around 4.5.

Significant inequality remains, however, with the richest 20 per cent of households accounting for almost two-thirds of the state's total net household wealth while the poorest 20 per cent of households have a mere 0.8 per cent.

BCEC director Alan Duncan says WA's economic growth rate has returned to a "new normal" more consistent with the rest of the nation, although the state's unemployment rate surpassed the national jobless rate for the first time since 2006 in August.

"There has been a shift away from full-time towards part-time employment, underemployment is on the rise, and feelings of job insecurity are more prevalent than before," Professor Duncan said.

"The state has also experienced a net population outflow as its economic performance declined.

"However, the recent economic slowdown has also resulted in some positive outcomes, including a narrowing of the gap between the rich and poor in WA and a general easing of cost of living pressures in resource-rich regions."

The report showed the size of the WA mining workforce has steadily shrunk from nearly 106,000 full-time equivalent positions in mid-2013 to around 84,000 by the end of last year.

In the mining-focused Pilbara region, the cost of living was a whopping 37 per cent higher than in Perth in 2011 but just 18 per cent higher in 2015.

The region has also experienced the largest decline in the number of 457 visa grants, plunging nearly 75 per cent between 2011-12 and 2015-16.

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