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Paid Hours Continue to Grow

Paid Hours Continue to Grow

The March 2004 Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) results showed increases in earnings and paid hours, while employment remained static, according to Statistics New Zealand.

These movements are consistent with historical patterns for March quarters.

Total paid hours in the March quarter increased compared with the previous quarter and the same quarter last year. Seasonally adjusted total paid hours increased by 1.7 percent from the last quarter and by 3.0 percent compared with the same quarter last year.

The increase in paid hours reflects increased working hours within businesses and increased employment in particular industries.

Earnings have increased this quarter, in line with paid hours. Seasonally adjusted total gross earnings increased by 1.8 percent compared with the December 2003 quarter and by 6.4 percent compared with the March quarter last year.

The average total hourly earnings was relatively unchanged at an estimated $19.85, while average total weekly earnings rose by 1.5 percent to $770.93 this quarter. The annual increase in paid hours continues to be lower than the increase in earnings, possibly due to: increases in wage rates; rises in the number of higher-paid employees; increases in overtime hours worked; and a shift from part-time employment to full-time employment.

Employment, as measured by full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) and filled jobs, shows little change compared with the December 2003 quarter. Filled jobs increased by 3.3 percent and FTEs increased by 3.1 percent compared with the same quarter last year. Full-time employment rose, while part-time employment fell, which is the usual result for March quarters.

However, growth in full-time employees has been greater than growth for part-time employees for the last three years, reflecting the tight labour market conditions and business growth.

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

Salary and wage rates (including overtime), as measured by the LCI, rose 0.4 percent in the March 2004 quarter. This is the smallest quarterly increase since the September 2000 quarter.

Salary and wage rates (including overtime) rose 2.2 percent in the year to March 2004.

Public sector salary and wage rates (including overtime) recorded an annual rise of 2.6 percent in the March 2004 quarter, while the private sector rose 2.1 percent. By comparison, from the December 2003 quarter to the March 2004 quarter, private sector salary and wage rates (including overtime) rose 0.5 percent, while public sector rates rose by 0.4 percent.

Carpenters and joiners salary and wage rates (including overtime) rose 0.9 percent in the March 2004 quarter. Carpenters and joiners salaries and wages have shown consistently high growth over the past year, increasing 4.3 percent from the March 2003 quarter to the March 2004 quarter. The rises are consistent with reported skill shortages in this area.

Ian Ewing

Acting Government Statistician

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