6 Nov 2012

Recruitment warning as public sector wages slip

7:18 pm on 6 November 2012

Wages for government employees are slipping further behind those in the private sector.

Official figures show the Labour Cost Index rose 0.5% in the three months to September, and 2.1% for the year.

Private-sector wage growth is steady: wages for private sector workers doing the same job to the same standard are up 2.1% on a year ago.

But increases for workers in the public sector wages are slowing.

Westpac's senior economist Felix Delbruck says that labour cost pressures remain subdued amid a slow recovery.

Radio New Zealand's economics correspondent says the situation is unchanged from what Statistics New Zealand has reported at the end of each of the past three quarters.

Over that time, annual wage growth for public sector workers has slipped from 1.6% to 1.4%.

Wages for council employees are up 2.4%, the same rate of annual growth as at the end of last year.

On an annual basis, the Labour Cost Index rose 2.1%.

Central government employees are feeling the most pain. Their annual wage growth has fallen from 1.8% at the end of last year to 1.3% now.

A public sector recruiter says Government departments are at risk of a brain drain if the wages they pay continue to fall further behind the private sector.

Recruitment firm Hudson's Wellington general manager Mike Dickson says he is having to play up the "feel-good factor" to fill government jobs.

Mr Dickson says public sector employers will have to pay more to keep staff as demand for workers picks up, or risk being cleaned out of top staff by the private sector.