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Wage rate growth steady at 2.0 percent
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  07 February 2012

Labour Cost Index (Salary and Wage Rates): December 2011 quarter  –  Media Release

Salary and wage rates, which include overtime, increased 2.0 percent in the year to the December 2011 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This rise follows a 2.0 percent increase in the year to the September 2011 quarter.

After the 2008/09 recession, annual wage rate growth in the labour cost index (LCI) dropped to a low of 1.5 percent in the year to the March 2010 quarter. Since then, the proportion of surveyed pay rates showing annual rises has grown – from 43 percent in the year to the March 2010 quarter to 56 percent in the year to the March 2011 quarter. This remained relatively stable during 2011 – including 57 percent in the year to the December 2011 quarter.

Salary and wage rates for the private sector increased 2.0 percent in the year to the December 2011 quarter. Annual growth remained steady throughout 2011. Public sector rates increased 1.8 percent in the year to the December 2011 quarter. This increase includes a 2.3 percent rise in the local government sector, the highest annual increase since a 2.5 percent rise in the year to the December 2009 quarter.

The Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), also released today, showed a rise in employment and total paid hours. For the December 2011 quarter, the seasonally adjusted number of full-time equivalent employees rose 0.6 percent, while seasonally adjusted filled jobs rose 0.5 percent. Seasonally adjusted total weekly paid hours rose 0.6 percent for the same period.

Average hourly earnings for ordinary time (ie excluding overtime) rose 2.8 percent for the December 2011 year, after rising 3.2 percent for the September 2011 year.

The LCI tracks nearly 6,000 jobs and reflects changes in the rates that employers pay to have the same job done to the same standard. Rises to match the market, retain staff, or reflect the cost of living are shown in the LCI, while rises reflecting individual performance or years of service are filtered out.

The QES surveys approximately 18,000 business locations and reflects New Zealand employers' demand for paid labour. From the survey responses, we estimate the levels and changes in employment, gross earnings, and paid hours in the industries we survey. These estimates are then used to calculate average earnings and paid hours statistics.

 Geoff Bascand 7 February 2012
 Government Statistician  

END

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