Petrol prices hit eight month low

·3-min read

Motorists are enjoying the cheapest petrol in eight months, with the national average fuel price sitting at $1.64 a litre.

This represents an 8.5 cent drop from the week before.

CommSec economist Craig James said the fall in the average retail price was largely driven by the large east coast cities moving into the low points of their fuel cycles.

Across the major cities, last week drivers paid $1.61 a litre, on average, while regional motorists paid $1.70 cents a litre, on average.

Mr James said global oil prices bounced around last week.

Disruptions in supply - including efforts by OPEC producers to limit production - have been pushing oil prices higher, with weaker global economic activity, lockdowns in China and a stronger US dollar some of the factors keeping prices subdued.

Mr James predicted a five to six per cent fall in petrol prices over the September quarter, in light of these conditions, but noted the reinstated fuel excise tax would add an extra 25 cents a litre.

The fuel excise was halved temporarily in the May budget to ease cost-of-living pressures and is due to be reinstated by the end of the month.

"With the reinstatement of the fuel excise, petrol prices will likely rise again over the December quarter - adding to inflation - unless global oil prices can continue to unwind," Mr James said.

Sluggish wage growth is making it difficult for households to manage soaring living costs, with real wages falling 3.5 per cent when measured against headline inflation in the June quarter.

Lifting wages is a key concern for the majority of small businesses, with 84 per cent flagging a boost to staff salaries as a top priority.

More than half of small businesses (52 per cent) have already increased wages in the last 12 months, according to an MYOB survey.

Around seven per cent of small and medium-sized businesses have lowered their wages, with 42 per cent leaving them stable.

The bulk of businesses that had boosted pay packets had done so by lifting prices (52 per cent), with 21 per cent taking smaller profit margins to cover a higher wages bill.

Around a third of those surveyed said they had lifted prices to account for the 5.2 per cent boost to the minimum wage from $20.33 to $21.38 an hour.

A notable gender pay gap was also revealed by the survey of more than 1000 business owners, with men paid 7.5 per cent more than women when median hourly wages were compared.

Women were also found to be shouldering more of the caring burden triggered by the pandemic, with women five times more likely than men to experience higher caring responsibilities due to COVID.

"On top of established and systemic challenges, the pandemic exacerbated many social and economic drivers that contribute to unequal outcomes for women," MYOB chief employee experience officer Helen Lea said.

"These were particularly apparent in the industries most impacted by COVID restrictions, such as hospitality and retail."