Pay rates creep up during past year

Fulltime workers got about $30 a week more in their pay during the year till September as wage costs rose about 2 per cent for employers, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand survey of 18,000 businesses.

The Labour Cost Index data showed private sector salaries rose 2.1 per cent in the year till the September quarter while state sector wages were up only 1.4 per cent.

Filled wholesale trade jobs rose 8.7 per cent and the construction sector saw a 5.7 per cent rise in the number of jobs.

ASB economist Daniel Smith said the data was largely as expected.

"Wage growth has been very stable for the last couple of years, with the labour cost index increasing by about 2 per cent year on year, and that has continued. We do expect the Canterbury rebuild to place some upward pressure on wages over the coming year, as skill shortages emerge, but there is little evidence of that effect coming through just yet."

According to Statistics New Zealand's latest Labour Cost Index data, the number of filled jobs in the earthquake-stricken Canterbury region had not recovered to levels before the February 2011 quake but rose 1 per cent overall in the past year.

Fulltime jobs were up 3 per cent in the year till September, but part-time positions fell by the same amount.

The biggest rise was in construction, accommodation, food services, arts and recreation.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton said the residential rebuild appeared to be gearing up.

"The Canterbury rebuild is credited with contributing to a South Island economy growing at 3.3 per cent, the greatest pace of growth seen in eight years," he said.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce employment relations adviser Keith Woodruff said tourism activity in the region had been depressed but was starting to show signs of revival.

Nationwide, the number of filled hospitality jobs was up 9.5 per cent. There were 173 listings for hospitality jobs in Canterbury on Trade Me. One advertiser, who did not want to be named, said things were "definitely on the improve", with dozens of applications for liquor licences listed in the public notices section of The Press newspaper.

Canterbury Restaurant Association president Michael Turner only reopened his Christchurch cafe Valentino six days ago, at a new location in St Asaph St, across the square from its pre-quake location, after being shut for 20 months.

"It is good to be back, but it has been very difficult to get experienced wait staff," he said. "When the earthquake happened we had 30 staff and within two weeks 25 had left for overseas because they have transportable skills. It's made life very difficult."

The mean increase for all surveyed salary and wage rates that rose nationwide in the September 2012 quarter was 3.1 per cent, compared with 3.6 per cent in the June 2012 quarter. Of all pay rates surveyed, 56 per cent showed annual increases in the year till the September 2012 quarter, the same proportion as in the year till the June 2012 quarter.