Modest pay rises for wage workers

Last updated 11:25 07/05/2013

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Average salary and wage rates rose modestly, up 0.4 per cent in the March quarter, while full-time and part-time job numbers also improved in the three-month period.

Annual growth in the labour cost index - 1.7 per cent for the year to the end of March - eased for the third quarter in a row, showing that pay rates are rising but more slowly than a year ago, despite more new jobs, according to Statistics NZ figures.

Private company workers were doing better than government workers for wage rises, although local government workers were getting above average gains.

Private sector salary and ordinary time wage rates increased 1.8 per cent in the year to the March 2013 quarter. 

Public sector salary and ordinary time wage rates rose 1.5 per cent in the same period. This rise in the public sector came from increases in central government (up 1.5 per cent) and local government (up 2.1 per cent).

In the March 2013 quarter, 13 per cent of all surveyed salary and ordinary time wage rates increased. Of the 13 per cent, the median increase was 2.4 per cent, the lowest in 12 years.

For the March year, 56 per cent of the surveyed sample saw higher wages. Of the 56 per cent, the median increase was 2.9 per cent, the lowest in 21 months.

The Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), also out today, showed rising demand for workers, with full-time jobs up 0.4 per cent in the March quarter. Full-time jobs increased 0.3 per cent, while part-time jobs were up 0.5 per cent.

QES figures showed that average hourly earnings for ordinary time (excluding overtime) rose 2.1 per cent in the year to the March 2013 quarter. This followed a 2.6 per cent rise in the year to the December 2012 quarter.

Official unemployment figures are due out on Thursday and are expected to show a rate of about 6.7 per cent or so.

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