How much is the average super balance in your state?

ASFA retirement super balances superannuation funds

22 June 2023
| By Rhea Nath |
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With an average superannuation balance of some $254,000, a typical resident of Australia’s capital city would be in the cohort of highest super balances across the country.

New analysis by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has found Canberra comes out on top among the capital cities of Australia’s states and territories in terms of super balances. 

This could be attributed, at least in part, to a higher density of public sector workers and government officials working in the ACT, who would typically see 15 per cent employer super contribution rates compared to 10.5 per cent for other workers.

Meanwhile, the average balances for Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Hobart ranged between $170,000 and $190,000. 

In Darwin, the average super balance was some $142,000. 

Outside of the capital cities, Newcastle in NSW had the highest average super balance (around $203,000) among the major towns. Other considerable average balances were found in Sunshine Coast, Queensland ($198,610); Traralgon, Victoria ($194,881); and Wollongong ($193,189). 

According to the ASFA, there were a range of factors that could help understand such variations.

“When comparing average super balances, there is a host of factors that can explain variations across Australia. Two of the major factors include demographics (specifically, the distribution of the population across age cohorts), and income from wages and salaries,” it said. 

The analysis noted considerable geographical variation within capital cities, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. In Sydney’s Inner West and South, over half (57 per cent) of the adult population is less than 40 years old compared to the Mid North Coast (23 per cent).

For Australia as a whole, 22 per cent of the adult population is older than 64.

“In terms of the working age population, older workers will (all else being equal) tend to have higher super balances,” ASFA explained. 

“In general, at a particular point in time, older workers will have been in the workforce for longer, will have made super contributions over longer periods, and will have accumulated higher balances (generally peaking at the end of workers’ careers).”

Additionally, the distribution of super balances across age cohort would rise in the decades ahead as the rate for compulsory super contributions (as a per cent of wages or salaries) grew. 

While it was 9.5 per cent in 2021, it was 10.5 per cent in 2023 and was scheduled to rise 0.5 per cent in July 2023, followed by 0.5 per cent in each of the two subsequent years until the rate reaches 12 per cent on 1 July 2025). 

ASFA added: “Workers who enter the workforce today will be contributing at higher rates, for longer periods, compared with previous generations of workers — which will be reflected in higher super balances.”

The analysis also considered how economic activity and occupations could impact geographical distribution of income across Australia’s major cities and towns, such as mining in Western Australia’s Goldfields-Esperance region where average annual income is over $83,000.

“Of course, the lived experience of many Australians is that they will reside and work in multiple regions across Australia during their lives. It is worth noting that the geographical variation of income is even more pronounced within Australia’s capital cities,” ASFA added.

“Within capital cities, the key determinant of the geographical distribution of income is the relative cost of housing (that is, more expensive housing requires higher incomes), rather than the location of specific economic activities and occupations.”

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