Higher costs of rent and food for New Zealanders are strengthening the call for the Minimum Wage to be lifted to the Living Wage says CTU Economist Craig Renney. “Statistics New Zealand today has released figures showing a 6% annual increase in rents across the country, and a 4% annual increase in food prices. Both of these are running well ahead of wages at 2.4%.
“Rental price increases are no longer constrained to urban centres – with the highest percentage increases for new rental agreements taking place in the North Island outside of Auckland and Wellington at 10.3%. Prices also lifted in Canterbury, with an increase of 10.1% for new rental agreements. This data is also supported by information from a Massey University Rental Report which showed a near 10% fall in rental affordability last year. These changes show the growing pressures on renters household incomes, and the need to maintain investment in new housing.
“Food prices increased even when adjusted for seasonal variation. Basic foods like fruits and vegetables rose nearly 6% annually after seasonal adjustment. The cost of grocery items also increased by more than 4%. Given how important these are to low-income household budgets it is essential that wages keep up with these changes.
“Craig Renney said “These two new pieces of information are a further demonstration of the need to ensure that the low paid essential workers who worked so hard to get New Zealand through the pandemic are given a well earned pay rise. One of the best ways in which the Government could provide an early Christmas present for essential workers would be to support the CTU’s call for the Minimum Wage to be set at the Living Wage level of $22.75. This would both lift the incomes of some of the poorest in the country, and make sure that we can all celebrate a more inclusive New Zealand in the New Year,” says Craig Renney