Small growth in wage packets despite rebuild

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 08:16 13/12/2013

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Salaries for managerial jobs in building and construction may be rising in Canterbury but that's not the same for jobs in general.

A survey by giant recruitment firm Mercer shows salaries rose on average in New Zealand only 2.6 per cent in 2013, the same level as during the global financial crisis. It was the lowest pay rise in five years.

Sarah Barnaby, a senior associate with Mercer's talent business, said firms were taking a more conservative approach to pay and staff retention than had been seen in the past decade.

"The results indicate that while we have seen an improvement in economic confidence, recovery post-GFC has been slower than expected inside businesses," she said.

In Christchurch, the going rate for jobs generally was a bit lower than the national average in the last year.

The gap between the salaries of jobs in Christchurch and the national rate widen to 1.6 per cent from 0.7 per cent. "Wages are not going up fast anywhere," Barnaby said.

While there was a lot of debate about jobs in construction in Christchurch overall, Mercer's database was showing that Christchurch salaries were generally not that hot.

There might well be some big salary increases in some jobs, but their data suggested that was isolated to where there was a shortage of skilled workers.

"There's not much difference between Christchurch and the rest of the country in terms of pay rises," Barnaby said.

Lower salary rises were noted across the country, including Wellington.

Auckland was the only centre on average offering higher than market-level pay. Barnaby said Auckland tended to do better than the rest of the country because companies' head offices were located there and large consultancy and multi-nationals.

Thirty-one per cent of New Zealand organisations told the survey they planned to cut staff in the next 12 months, compared with 44 per cent in Australia.

"Despite the tightening budgets and downsizing, employers know they have to remain competitive to attract and keep the best talent," Barnaby said.

While pay rises were weak, job benefits were at a record high. Organisations were offering flexible working hours (87 per cent), non-financial rewards (95 per cent), health and wellness programmes (95 per cent) and the ability to work from home (64 per cent).

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- The Press

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