3 May 2011

More hours worked to keep up with cost of living

5:48 pm on 3 May 2011

Workers are putting in more hours to keep up with the increase in the cost of living, official figures show.

Growth in wages continues to improve in New Zealand - but only at a very modest pace.

Statistics New Zealand says average wage rates, including overtime, rose 1.9% in the year to March.

It is the fourth consecutive quarterly increase, but is still below the annual rate of inflation of 4.5%.

There was a boost to take home pay as people are working longer hours, with this quarter seeing the second-biggest increase in more than 20 years.

As a result, average weekly earnings rose 4% in the year.

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly says that suits bosses who want to increase production but are wary of taking on more workers.

Statistics New Zealand says 56% of employees received an increase in salary and ordinary time wage rates in the first three months of the year, the highest proportion in two years.

Some 64% of overtime rates also rose, again the highest in two years.