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NZ wage inflation accelerates faster than consumer prices in 2Q

Tuesday 7th August 2012

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New Zealand wage inflation outpaced gains in consumer prices in the second quarter as employers added to their payrolls with longer hours worked in the period.

Private sector salary and ordinary time wages rose 0.5 percent in the three months ended June 30, according to Statistics New Zealand. That was a faster pace than the 0.3 percent increase in consumer prices, and matched expectations in a Reuters survey of economists. The annual pace of wage inflation was 2.1 percent.

The number of total filled jobs rose 2 percent in the quarter to 1.72 million and weekly paid hours advanced 2.2 percent to 52.2 million, according to the Quarterly Employment Survey, released at the same time. Economists were picking growth of just 0.3 percent for each.

Today's release comes ahead of the household labour force survey, which includes the headline unemployment rate, and signals an improving jobs market after the workforce swelled to a three-year high in the first three months of the year.

New Zealand's labour market has been slow to recover from the nation's deepest recession in two decades, with employers more willing to take on part-time staff than stack their books with full-timers. The unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 6.7 percent in the first quarter as the increase in people looking for jobs wasn't met by available work.

The number of full-time employees rose 1.2 percent in the quarter to 1.12 million, with a 4.6 percent gain in construction, while part-time positions rose 4. 1 percent to 470,000, led by a seasonal turnaround in education, and an increase in information, media and telecommunications staff.

Full-time equivalent positions advanced 1.7 percent to 1.35 million in the quarter, for an annual increase of 2 percent.

Total weekly gross earnings rose 2.3 percent to $1.41 billion in the quarter, for a 5.2 percent annual increase. Average hourly wages advanced 0.2 percent to a total $24.96 in the private sector, short of the 0.7 percent growth forecast by economists.

Public sector pay rates fell 1.5 percent to $34.31, leading to a 0.1 percent decline in combined average hourly earnings to $27.

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