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Wage rates grow 2.0 percent
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  01 May 2012

Labour Cost Index (Salary and Wage Rates): March 2012 quarter  –  Media Release

Salary and wage rates, which include overtime, increased 2.0 percent in the year to the March 2012 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This includes a 0.5 percent rise in the March 2012 quarter.

Labour cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates for the private sector increased 2.1 percent in the year to the March 2012 quarter. "The latest annual increase for the private sector is the highest in nearly three years," Statistics NZ prices manager Chris Pike said. "Annual wage rate growth for the private sector peaked at 3.7 percent in the year to the September 2008 quarter."

Public sector rates increased 1.6 percent in the year to the March 2012 quarter. The increase in the latest year resulted from a 1.6 percent increase in central government and a 2.1 percent increase in local government salary and wage rates.

In the year to the March 2012 quarter, the mean increase for all surveyed salary and ordinary time wage rates that rose was 3.8 percent. This is the highest increase since a 3.9 percent mean increase in the year to the March 2010 quarter. "Fifty-seven percent of surveyed pay rates showed annual rises in the year to the March 2012 quarter – half of these rose by more than 3 percent," Mr Pike said.

The Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), also released today, showed average hourly earnings for ordinary time (ie excluding overtime) rose 3.8 percent for the March 2012 year, after rising 2.8 percent for the December 2011 year.

Over the past year fewer paid hours and part-time employees in some industries (particularly education and training) have contributed to the rise in average hourly earnings. “While gross earnings continue to rise, paid hours and part-time employment have fallen for a few industries,” industry and labour statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. “Part-time jobs generally have lower average hourly earnings than full-time. This coupled with the fall in part-time employment has contributed to average hourly earnings rising faster than wage inflation, as measured by the LCI.”

For the March 2012 quarter, the seasonally adjusted number of filled jobs was unchanged. The seasonally adjusted number of total weekly paid hours fell 0.5 percent for the same period

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 1 May 2012
 Government Statistician  


For media enquiries contact:
Chris Pike
Wellington 04 931 4600 

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