Skip to content

Wages of working people not matching inflation

Image of NZCTU Economist Craig Renney

Despite working a record number of hours people are still not seeing real terms wage rises, say the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.

Unemployment was 3.3%, and there were 2.8m people in work according to the latest unemployment data from Statistics New Zealand.

“The labour market continues to be experienced differently by different communities. Unemployment fell for men, Māori, and Pacific peoples, but rose for women,” said CTU economist Craig Renney.

“The number of 15–24-year-olds not in education, employment or training rose to 12.1%.  Long-term unemployment continues to fall, with the number of people out of work for more than six months falling 31% annually.”

According to the Labour Cost Index, overall wages increased by 3.4 percent. Public sector workers had an even lower annual increase at 3%.

“The increase is less than half of current inflation. More than a third of working people did not receive a pay rise last year.”

“We are missing the ‘wage’ part of the possible wage price spiral. The incomes of working people don’t appear to be driving our current inflation rates.”                   

Renney said today’s numbers confirm the need for caution in overinterpreting our current data.

“Unemployment remains low by international standards, but there may be more slack in the labour market due to the high number of people out of work with sickness. This has doubled in the past year.  

“Wages are rising, but most workers are still behind inflation. With 190,000 Kiwis underemployed or unemployed, there is still plenty to do before we can claim that we are at full employment.”