Provides prices for groceries, houses and wages for Victoria, spanning the 19th to the 20th century.
Early Victorian year books (VYBs) divide wage groups into two industries: Agricultural and Factory, providing specific earnings according to occupation, i.e. milkers, stockmen, managers.
The VYBs list wages and earnings from the late 1800s. For wage specifics, it is advised that you consult the VYB according to the year you are interested in and look under ‘wages' in the index. Average weekly earnings from 1967- 2020 are available online with thanks to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Later VYBs provide figures for average weekly earnings for males and females. The VYBs are available online from 1903 or can be found in the La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria, at call number LT 319.45 V66Y.
Below is a table compiled from various VYBs for factory workers and managers and clerks.
|Average yearly wage factory workers||Male||Female|
|1910||£157 16s 8d||£70 17s 5d|
|1920||£204 15s 9d||£99 1s 6d|
|1940||£248 5s 8d||£123 1s 3d|
|1950||£296 3s 7d||£146 18s 4d|
|Average yearly wage managers and clerks||Male||Female|
|1910-11||£264 8s 1d||£118 6s 9d|
|1930||£364 9s 2d||£145 13s 9d|
|1940||£376 1s||£146 13s 6d|
|1950||£433 1s 4d||£162 10s 6d|
Source : Victorian year book. From 1873 they are available online
£=pound, s= shilling, d= pence
£1 in 1901 was worth $119 in 2007
Source: Reserve Bank of Australia inflation calculator
The book Black and white data book on the Australian motor industry contains a listing of approximate average male weekly wage earnings from 1928-2009, (pg 109-111).
A good source for more detailed postage rates is Bradshaw's guide to Victoria contains Labor Market Reports which details rates for occupations.
|$ per annum||$per annum|
Source: Australian year books
In the Victorian Year Book (VYB), earnings are listed for specific occupations according to industry (factory or agriculture). Below is a sample of the type of information available. For details, The VYBs are available online from 1903 or can be found in the La Trobe Reading Room at the State Library of Victoria, at call number LT 319.45 V66Y.
Average weekly earnings by trade
£ 2 2s 10d
£ 1 2s 5d
£1 8s 3d
£1 19s 6d
£1 16s 10d
|Occupation|| £ s. d. per diem
|Carpenters||0 10 0 " "|
|Smiths||0 9 4 " "|
|Wheelwrights||0 10 8 " "|
|Bricklayers||0 10 0 " "|
|Masons||0 9 4 " "|
|Farm labourers||38 0 0 per annum
|Shepherds||42 0 0 " "|
|Cooks||27 0 0 " "|
|Housemaids||21 0 0 " "|
|Laundresses||26 10 0 " "|
|Nursemaids||19 0 0 " "|
|Farm servants||23 0 0 " "|
|House servants||24 10 10 " "|
Source: Immigration: report from the Immigration Agent upon immigration; 1851 (pg 5)
Per diem: the amount of money that someone is given to cover their daily expenses while they are working.
The online pamphlet An account of the colony of South Australia includes a detailed listing of the prices of food and the average wage rates for the the years 1852 to 1861.
Source: Job jamboree: some early occupations and their meanings
The book Decades of change includes detailed figures on wages, groceries and real estate as well as many other areas, organized by the decades of the twentieth century (1900-1988). Each chapter gives the weekly wage for that year according to chosen occupations, i.e. the weekly wage of a coachman in 1929 was $10 (figures are converted), the price of milk in 1929 was 7c per litre.
The book is also divided into a series of junior books, according to decade.
Sometimes wages and labour costing figures were listed in the newspapers, like the below report from The Argus June 23, 1851, p2.
You can browse the broader subjects headings by entering the below terms into the Library catalogue, and then use the links on the left hand side of the page to narrow your search.
Enter: ‘Wages’, then the industry you are interested in
The Historical records of Victoria series consists of eight volumes. Volume four details average wages in Melbourne during 1837, (p.257) and 1839, (p.276).
An occupational index can be found in volume eight, titled, 'Cumulative indexes', under 'Salaries and allowances' (p.155).
All eight volumes are available in the La Trobe Reading Room at call number LT 994.5 F82.
Awards set out the minimum wages and conditions to which an employee is entitled in particular industries and occupations.
Prior to 1959 awards were published in the Victoria government gazette. To further refine your search you can add a key word to the search box relating to the relevant occupation, eg. wage determinations engineers.
Listed below are the Victorian historical awards held at the State Library of Victoria.
[Wage determinations] (1930-1982)
Consists of a collection of determinations of various wages boards and other industrial tribunals.
Awards of the Industrial Relations Commission of Victoria (1983-1995)
Victorian Employers' Federation awards. There are a number of major awards listed on the catalogue that were published by the Victorian Employers' Federation during the 1980s and early 1990s.
To see if there is a Victorian Employers' Federation award for a specific industry, type in the industry with the terms Victorian Employers' Federation award. For example Victorian Employers Federation award pastrycooks