15 Jan 2014

Wage growth 'likely for skilled workers'

6:55 am on 15 January 2014

The Employers and Manufacturers Association says wage growth will be patchy this year despite positive economic forecasts.

An Institute of Economic Research survey released on Tuesday shows business confidence at its highest in nearly 20 years.

The December quarterly survey found a net 52% of firms expected economic conditions to improve, compared with 33% picking better times ahead in the previous period. It is the highest level since mid-1994.

Trading activity, which the institute says closely mirrors economic growth, suggests annual economic growth of 3.5% in the last three months of 2013.

Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell said highly-skilled workers are likely to see an increase in their pay but that probably won't extend to those in low-skilled jobs.

"The new work that's coming in requires skills. I believe that there will be some growth for where people will pay for skills and unskilled people, unfortunately, probably will have to struggle a little bit."

Council of Trade Union chief economist Bill Rosenberg said an unfair two-step economy is emerging, with those in low-paying jobs falling further behind.