Wages growth flatlined as expected in the December quarter, expanding by just 0.5 per cent, with the soft trend likely to continue well into this year.
Total hourly rates of pay, excluding bonuses, rose by a seasonally adjusted 2.2 per cent year-on-year, according to Wednesday's figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
For the first time since 2012, private sector wages grew at a faster rate (0.5 per cent) than the public sector (0.4 per cent).
Across industries, annual wage growth in 2019 ranged from 1.6 per cent for the information, media and telecommunication services industry, to 3.1 per cent for the health care and social assistance industry.
Victoria recorded the highest through-the-year growth of 2.7 per cent, while Western Australia recorded the lowest for the sixth consecutive quarter (1.7 per cent).
Dr Sarah Hunter, chief economist for BIS Oxford Economics, said the tepid pace of growth suggested there is "still plenty of slack in the economy".
"The data largely confirms the Reserve Bank's view that price inflation is unlikely to pick up in the near term," Dr Hunter said.
"We still expect the board to cut the cash rate again - likely in the second quarter - to further stimulate the economy, drive jobs growth and eventually feed through to an acceleration in wages growth."
She said there was potentially some very early signs of the impact of the bushfires and coronavirus outbreak, with wages in the accommodation and food services sector increasing by just 0.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter - the weakest of all sectors.
Capital Economics senior economist Marcel Thieliant said the annual growth in public sector wages was the slowest increase on record.
He expected wages growth to weaken further, making it more likely the RBA will cut the cash rate in coming months.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the Morrison government had a 100 per cent failure rate in achieving its budgeted wages growth forecasts.
"The only wage growth we have seen under this government has come from working people organising in their unions to win wage rises through collective agreements and improve the national minimum wage," she said.
Australian Associated Press