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Annual Wage Growth Continues

Labour Cost Index and Quarterly Employment Survey: March 2006 quarter

Embargoed until 10:45am — 8 May 2006

Annual Wage Growth Continues

Salary and wage rates (including overtime), as measured by the Labour Cost Index (LCI), rose 3.3 percent in the year to the March 2006 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the largest annual increase since the series began in the December 1992 quarter. Strong earnings growth was also shown in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) over the March 2006 year.

In the year to the March 2006 quarter, salary and wage rates (including overtime) increased 4.0 percent for the public sector, and 3.0 percent for the private sector. These are the largest annual increases since the LCI began in the December 1992 quarter.

In the year to the March 2006 quarter, 61 percent of salary and ordinary time wage rates in the surveyed sample increased. Twenty-five percent of these recorded an increase of between three and five percent, and 21 percent an increase of more than five percent. These are the largest annual proportions since the LCI began in the December 1992 quarter.

In the QES, the average total hourly earnings increased 5.2 percent (to $21.63) in the March 2006 year. This is the largest March annual increase since the year to March 1990.

The number of full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) rose 3.1 percent over the March 2006 year, driven by increased full-time employment (up 3.7 percent). Part-time employment was relatively unchanged over the same period.

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

Brian Pink Government Statistician


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