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Cashed-up miners aren't the only workers to reap the benefits of sweeping economic change during the past decade or so.

Everyone's heard the tales of young people barely out of high school pocketing six-figure salaries while working on resources projects in Western Australia.

It's enough to make many city dwellers on the east coast think about packing up and moving west. Or at least joke about doing so.

What's less well known, however, is that average pay packets during the past 15 years have also doubled in utilities, media, telecommunications and scientific services.

At the other end of the scale, the smallest pay increases have tended to go to the lowest-paid workers, such as those in hospitality, retail and the arts.

What's behind the growing disparity in pay packets between different industries?


The basic reasons for the wage surges in mining, energy or construction are simple enough: supply and demand.

With the huge surge in mining investment, resources companies have had to entice thousands more workers into the industry.

Since many of the boilermakers, electricians or engineers the miners need are working in construction, that has pushed up wages on building sites throughout the country.

A recent report from Suncorp says the average salary in mining more than doubled to $112,985 a year since 1996, while construction wages were up 85 per cent to $67,974.

Surprisingly to some, wages in media and telecommunications have also increased by 113 per cent since 1996 - as the digital revolution opened up new opportunities.

Banks and financial services firms were notorious for paying eye-popping salaries before the global financial crisis, when credit growth was booming.

Now that people are borrowing less, there's less demand for workers in financial services. All up, wages in the industry rose 88 per cent, to $71,479.

On the other hand, pay rates have increased much slower in industries that tend to employ lower-skilled staff and high numbers of workers in casual positions.

The average wage in hospitality has risen by 49 per cent to $25,896, while pay in retail rose by 70 per cent to $32,448.