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Growth In Wage Rates

Labour Cost Index and Quarterly Employment Survey: March 2002 quarter

3 May 2002

Growth in Wage Rates Labour Cost Index (LCI) figures for the March 2002 quarter show growth in wage rates, according to Statistics New Zealand. Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) figures, also released today, show that employment remained relatively flat over the same period.

Salary and wage rates (including overtime), as measured by the LCI, increased by 0.5 percent in the March 2002 quarter, following increases of 0.5 percent in the December 2001 quarter and 0.6 percent in the September 2001 quarter.

On an annual basis, salary and wage rates (including overtime) were 2.0 percent higher in the March 2002 quarter than in the March 2001 quarter.

LCI private sector salary and ordinary time wage rates rose by 0.5 percent in the March 2002 quarter and are now 2.0 percent higher than a year earlier. Fifty-two percent of private sector ordinary time pay rates increased from the March 2001 quarter, which is the highest proportion since the June 1996 quarter when 54 percent rose from a year earlier. Of the private sector ordinary time pay rates that rose from the March 2001 quarter to the March 2002 quarter, the average annual increase was 4.2 percent.

LCI public sector salary and ordinary time wage rates rose by 0.6 percent in the March 2002 quarter. This follows an increase of 0.7 percent in the December 2001 quarter. On an annual basis public sector salary and ordinary time wage rates were 2.3 percent higher than in the March 2001 quarter.

The LCI measures changes in salary and wage rates for a fixed quantity and quality of labour input. By comparison, QES average earnings statistics reflect not only changes in pay rates, but also compositional and other changes in the workforce.

Employment figures from the February 2002 QES indicate relatively flat employment. Full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) increased 0.3 percent and filled jobs decreased by 0.7 percent. Annually, FTEs have increased by 3.7 percent and total filled jobs by 3.4 percent in the February 2002 year. Seasonally adjusted total paid hours increased by 1.4 percent in the February 2002 quarter and by 4.7 percent in the February 2002 year. Seasonally adjusted total gross earnings increased by 2.8 percent in the February 2002 quarter and 8.6 percent in the February 2002 year.

The February 2002 QES has recorded a 1.3 percent increase in average total hourly earnings. In the year to February 2002, average total hourly earnings increased by 3.6 percent.

Private sector average ordinary time hourly earnings were $17.54 in the February 2002 quarter, an increase of 0.6 percent from November 2001. Annually, private sector average ordinary time hourly earnings increased by 2.5 percent.

Public sector average ordinary time hourly earnings were $23.46 in the February 2002 quarter, equating to a 3.1 percent increase for the quarter. In the year to February 2002, public sector average ordinary time hourly earnings rose by 7.3 percent. These movements reflect compositional changes in employment within and between industries in addition to increases in pay rates, as shown in the LCI.

Brian Pink Government Statistician

END

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