Salary update across industries – who’s paying what?

When business activity is on the up, it’s fair to assume that salaries follow a similar pattern. Yet despite reports of a buoyant job market, salaries across New Zealand have been slow to respond.

The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows a year-on-year increase in SEEK new job ads of 8.9%; however, salaries are seeing only moderate growth. “Movement of salaries has been very limited over the past 12 months,” says Jason Walker, New Zealand Managing Director of recruitment firm Hays. “There were a few lucky winners, but the overall picture has been very modest.”


Sentiment versus salary

Janet Faulding, SEEK New Zealand General Manager, says the slight lift in advertised salaries is consistent with the overall upward trend in New Zealand new SEEK job ads. “After experiencing a mild decline in the middle of last year, salaries are trending up again, albeit very slightly and perhaps not as much as employees may like.”



Lee Tyrell, Managing Consultant with recruitment firm Franklin Smith, says that salary levels are not matching increased business activity across the country and they may need to catch up.

“Four or five years ago, when the market was down and companies were struggling, employers were obviously looking at what they were paying people and they were being conservative in regards to increases,” he explains. “I think some of those companies will become unstuck because they have not adjusted salaries now that the market has improved. There are some employees who are on historic salaries that are actually underpaid. I just placed someone who was on a salary of $55,000 and I got them a salary of $80,000, but that required a job shift.”

The Hays 2016 salary survey shows that the majority of employers have remained conservative. “We found that 91% of employees received salary increases but, in the majority, it was less than 3% and either inline or below with the inflation rate,” says Walker.

“According to our national figures, salaries as a whole moved 1.9% last year. Although we’re starting to see an increase in business activity across New Zealand, it’s really not translating to increases in productivity and if you’re not increasing productivity, you’re not increasing salaries,” he says.



Salaries across the sectors

While the greater proportion of employment sectors have recorded trend increases in average advertised salaries on SEEK over the past four months, growth has been slim. Average advertised salaries on SEEK are showing the strongest increasing trends across sectors linked to New Zealand’s booming residential construction industry.

In May 2016, the average advertised salary for the construction sector was $94,878, while design and architecture recorded an average advertised salary of $78,142. Trades and services also experienced stronger SEEK job ad growth than other sectors with an average advertised salary of $59,299.

“In the main, construction received greater increases than most and that’s also because we’re starting to see a resurgence and investment in commercial development and infrastructure, mainly in Auckland,” says Walker. “That’s coming off the back of a growing population and increasing demand for housing. For a long time, Christchurch was doing the heavy lifting in the economy because of the rebuild, but now Auckland is starting to come to the party. Finding tradespeople anywhere across New Zealand is becoming increasingly difficult, so that’s where we’ve been seeing pressure on salaries to move up.”

Sectors to record moderate salary increases on SEEK over the past four months include healthcare and medical with an average advertised salary of $76,511 in May 2016; education and training ($66,968); marketing and communications ($79,199); hospitality and tourism ($50,524); and retail and consumer products ($52,575).

Sectors to record downward trends in average advertised salaries include sport and recreation, which in May 2016 was $58,991; banking and financial services ($80,813); farming, animals and conservation ($64,044); and call centre and customer service ($47,231).

Across the regions, advertised salaries rose in Auckland and Canterbury and eased a little in Wellington. In the smaller regional markets, advertised salaries decreased sharply in Taranaki, largely as the resources boom ends, and showed strongest growth in Hawkes Bay and Otago.



Delivering the benefits

Walker predicts that salaries will show more movement over the next 12 months. “Salaries need to increase because there’s a massive gap between the affordability of housing, particularly in Auckland, where house prices have outstripped salary growth,” he says. “But we’ll only see changes when we see an increase in productivity.”

Walker adds that while salary is important to employees, most have not questioned their pay packet in the past year. “We found that 70% of the working population didn’t ask for a salary increase,” he says.

In place of a sizable salary lift, Walker says employers are becoming more creative with their overall employee package. “This may include offering flexible working arrangements, car parking or more money going into Kiwi Saver.”

If salary increases remain modest, employers may need to find even more ways to attract the best and brightest.



Salary snapshot by industry – average advertised salaries on SEEK in May 2016



  • Consulting and strategy – $96,494.

  • Construction – $94,878.

  • Information and communication technology – $93,061.

  • Engineering – $90,309.

  • Mining, resources and energy – $90,258.

  • Real estate and property – $86,299.

  • Human resources and recruitment – $82,454.

  • Banking and financial services – $80,813.

  • Legal – $79,425.

  • Marketing and communications – $79,199.

  • Design and architecture – $78,142.

  • Government and defence – $78,021.

  • Accounting – $77,318.

  • Healthcare and medical – $76,511.

  • Insurance and superannuation – $75,943.

  • Sales – $73,834.

  • Science and technology – $73,318.

  • Advertising, arts and media – $67,982.

  • Education and training – $66,968.

  • Manufacturing, transport and logistics – $66,732.

  • Farming, animals and conservation – $64,044.

  • Trades and services – $59,299.

  • Community services and development – $59,190.

  • Sport and recreation – $58,991.

  • Retail and consumer products – $52,575.

  • Hospitality and tourism – $50,524.

  • Administration and office support – $50,509.

  • Call centre and customer service – $47,231.




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