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Wages need a boost

CTU Media Release

5 February 2013

Wages need a boost

"The fall in the average wage from $25.27 to $25.25 along with the continued slow wage increases measured by today's release of the Labour Cost Index (LCI) show current wage increases are simply not going to do what is necessary to raise living standards for New Zealand families", says CTU Economist, Bill Rosenberg.

"The fall in the average wage was due to a fall in private sector pay where the average wage fell from $25.26 to $25.17. However there is a mixed picture with the LCI showing private sector increases continuing to outstrip the public sector."

"For those who did get an increase in the last year, the median increase was 3.0 percent and the average was 3.7 percent. However, the proportion of workers getting no increase at all has now risen to 45 percent."

Bill Rosenberg said "wages and salaries make up almost three-quarters of household income. They are the way the great majority of New Zealanders get to share the income this country generates. But for many families, their wages are inadequate to provide even a modest standard of living."

"Last week, migration figures for the 2012 year showed the highest loss of people to Australia since Statistics New Zealand began recording this in 1979. More people left New Zealand permanently to all destinations than any previous year in New Zealand's history."

"Wages and salaries are not the only reason for this, but they are a big one," says Rosenberg.

"There needs to be a focus on wages, with a significant increase in the minimum wage, stronger legislative support for collective bargaining, and widespread adoption of a Living Wage as essential ingredients," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg also noted that the gender pay gap, measured by the difference between the male and female average wage, was again well over 13 percent - at 13.4 percent, a fall from last quarter's 13.9 percent but still notably higher than the 12.3-12.9 percent range of the last two years.


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