Home | Previous reports | Regional Indicators | Downloads | Contact us
Download

Median hourly earnings

Definition

Median hourly earnings from all wages and salaries for employees aged 15 years and over earning income from wage and salary jobs, as measured by the New Zealand Income Survey, adjusted for inflation.

Relevance

Median hourly earnings from wage and salary jobs is an indicator of the financial return from paid employment, independent of the number of hours worked.

Current level and trends

In the June 2009 quarter, half of all people employed in wage and salary jobs earned more than $19.47 an hour. In the year to the June 2009 quarter, real (inflation-adjusted) median hourly earnings rose by 66 cents an hour or 4 percent. Over the 12 years to the June 2009 quarter, real median hourly earnings increased by $3.36 an hour or 21 percent.

Hourly earnings are higher for full-time wage earners than for those working part-time. In the June 2009 quarter, the median hourly wage was $20.83 for people employed full-time in wage and salary jobs and $15.00 for part-time employees.

By qualification level, median hourly earnings ranged from $26.56 for employees with a degree at bachelor’s level or higher, to $16.00 an hour for those with no qualifications.

Employees in professional occupations had the highest median hourly earnings, at $27.50. This is nearly twice the median hourly earnings of service and sales workers, at $14.00 an hour.

Figure PW3.1 Median hourly earnings from wage and salary jobs (in June 2009 dollars), by sex, June quarters, 1997–2009

Figure PW3.1 Median hourly earnings from wage and salary jobs (in June 2009 dollars), by sex, June quarters, 1997–2009

Source: Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand Income Survey

Age differences

In 2009, median hourly earnings from wage and salary jobs were highest at ages 35–39 years ($23.02) and 30–34 years and 40–44 years (both $22.00). This compares with $12.50 an hour for 15–19 year olds and $17.54 for those aged 65 years and over.

By five-year age groups, the increase in employees’ real median hourly earnings over the 12 years to 2009 was largest for those aged 15–19 years (29 percent) and smallest for those aged 20–24 years (10 percent). Across broad age groups, real median hourly earnings increased over that period by 14 percent for those aged 15–24 years, 20 percent for those aged 25–44 years, 17 percent for those aged 45–64 years and 24 percent for those aged 65 years and over.

Sex differences

The median hourly wage was $20.53 for male employees and $18.22 for female employees in the June 2009 quarter. The increase in real median hourly earnings from 1997 to 2009 was greater for female employees (23 percent) than for male employees (15 percent). Over this period, the ratio of female to male median hourly earnings increased from 83 percent to 89 percent.

Among wage and salary earners employed full-time in the June 2009 quarter, median hourly earnings were higher for males ($21.67) than for females ($19.99). For part-time employees, the sex difference was reversed, with median hourly earnings higher for females ($15.50) than for males ($14.00). The pattern was the same in the previous year.

In 2009, there was a sex difference in median hourly earnings at all ages over 20 years. The gap was greatest for employees aged 45–54 years, where the ratio of female to male median hourly earnings was 80 percent. However, the gap has narrowed since 1997 when the ratio of female to male median hourly earnings was 71 percent for 45–49 year olds and 76 percent for 50–54 year olds. Over the 12 years since 1997, the ratio of female to male median hourly earnings increased most for the 35–39 years age group (from 76 percent to 86 percent).

Figure PW3.2 Median hourly earnings from wage and salary jobs (in June 2009 dollars), by age group and sex, June quarters, 2007 and 2009

Figure PW3.2 Median hourly earnings from wage and salary jobs (in June 2009 dollars), by age group and sex, June quarters, 2007 and 2009

Source: Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand Income Survey

Ethnic differences

In the June 2009 quarter, Europeans and the Other ethnic group (including “New Zealander”), had the highest median hourly earnings for wage and salary earners at $20.00 an hour. They were followed by the Asian ethnic group and the combined ethnic group category of Middle Eastern, Latin American and African (MELAA), at $18.00 an hour. The median hourly earnings of Māori were somewhat lower at $17.50 an hour, while Pacific peoples had the lowest earnings at $16.50 an hour. However, compared to the June 2008 quarter, Pacific peoples in wage and salary jobs had the greatest increase in real median hourly earnings, up 7 percent, compared to 5 percent for Māori and 4 percent for Europeans.

Between 2008 and 2009, the ratio of Pacific to European median hourly earnings increased from 80 percent to 83 percent, while the ratio of Māori to European median hourly earnings increased from 86 percent to 88 percent. Over the 12 years to 2009, inflation-adjusted median hourly earnings from wage and salary jobs increased by 25 percent for Māori. This was more than the increase for all earners (21 percent). Because of a change in the way ethnic statistics are collected and reported, it is not possible to measure long-term change in median hourly earnings for ethnic groups other than Māori.

Regional differences

In the June 2009 quarter, workers in Auckland and Wellington had the highest median hourly earnings. The median hourly earnings for wage and salary workers was $20.62 in Auckland, $20.50 in Wellington and $19.60 in Canterbury. Median hourly earnings were lowest in the Bay of Plenty ($17.90), Manawatu-Whanganui and Southland (both $18.00), Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay ($18.14) and Northland ($18.17).

Over the period 1998–2009, real median hourly earnings increased most in Canterbury and Northland (each 24 percent). All regions experienced positive growth in real median hourly earnings over that period.

» View technical details about the median hourly earnings indicator