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Wage war in North Island

Wellington's seven per cent wage rise has put Wellington neck-and-neck with Auckland in the fight to be the country's highest-paying city.
Posted on 11 July, 2018
Wage war in North Island

Trade Me Jobs’ second-quarter data shows the average salary in Wellington City is $71,558 – hot on the heels of Auckland City where wage growth was up just 0.2% on last year to $71,560.

Trade Me analysed its 72,000 vacancies listed on the site over the past three months and found the difference in average wages in Wellington and Auckland was less than $2.  

Head of Trade Me Jobs Jeremy Wade said the average salary in Wellington City was up a solid 7 per cent on last year compared to Auckland City where wage growth was up just 0.2 per cent.

“After dominating 2017, the capital has been chasing Auckland for the highest earning area this year and there’s now just a paltry $2 difference. With lower living costs and employers putting more money on the table, the grass could be greener for employees in the capital.”

Wade attributed a chunk of the solid job growth in Wellington to the relatively new Labour-led Government assuming power and with the public servant cap being lifted last month, this growth should continue in the third quarter.

The national average wage remained relatively flat year-on-year, increasing just 0.7 per cent in the last year to $60,970, although some regions were doing particularly well.

“The Wellington region was leading the pack with the highest increase in the average salary, up 7.1 per cent to $66,461, along with Gisborne which jumped up 6.5 per cent on last year to $59,017 and the West Coast which was up 4.8 per cent to reach $60,344,” says Wade.

For those looking to change jobs in the next year, Wade advises that making the move sooner rather than later was the way to go.

“It’s a job hunter’s market with the average number of job applications down 6.3 per cent across the country.”

According to Wade, this was due to “reasonably prosperous” times and the country is near natural full employment.

“With employer confidence at a five-year low and job growth flattening, the job market is evening out and it looks like a good time to dust off that CV if you want to make a move. If things continue this way, we could see a dip in job ads in the next quarter and a swing back towards employers with more applicants than roles in some sectors.”

The South Island saw a boost in job listings year-on-year with the West Coast (up 19.8 per cent), Nelson (up 18.8 per cent) and Southland (up 18.4 per cent) the strongest performers. Job growth in these regions has been driven by roles in trades and services.

Auckland, Marlborough and Canterbury were the only regions in the country to experience a year-on-year dip in job listings, down 6.1 per cent, 4.9 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively.

The Auckland job market took a breath in the second quarter, says Wade. 

“After such stellar growth in 2017 it’s no surprise things have eased a year later. Traditionally the regions immediately surrounding Auckland continue the trend a few months later so there are some concerns Auckland’s job market slowdown could ripple out into these ‘halo’ regions in the next quarter. However, if Government decisions around key infrastructure projects provide some market certainty, we should see it bounce back pretty quickly.”

The national number of job listings were flat year-on-year, up just 0.1 per cent as the country comes off the leaps and bounds we saw last year.

“The job market saw some incredible double-digit growth this time last year which is why we’re now seeing the dust settle. In the next six months we should see things start to look up for the market once again,” he added.