New Zealand - Wage & Salaries

New Zealand: Wage & Salaries

Unit NZD, SA
Adjustments Seasonally Adjusted
Quarterly 2.95 %
Data 2021 Q2 2,396,986,820
2021 Q1 2,328,270,720

Series Information

Source Statistics New Zealand
Release Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) [excerpt]
Frequency Quarterly
Start Date 3/31/1989
End Date 6/30/2021

New Zealand: Labor

Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Labor Force 2021 Q2 2,894 2,883 Ths. #, SA Quarterly
Labor Force Employment 2021 Q2 2,778 2,749 Ths. #, SA Quarterly
Unemployment 2021 Q2 117 133 Ths. #, SA Quarterly
Unemployment Rate 2021 Q2 4 4.6 %, SA Quarterly
Wage & Salaries 2021 Q2 2,396,986,820 2,328,270,720 NZD, SA Quarterly
Tertiary Industries Employment 2020 1,367,300 1,345,300 # Annual
Total Employment 2020 2,317,300 2,285,000 # Annual
Agriculture Employment 2017 176,765 169,705 # Annual

Release Information

For New Zealand, the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) is designed to measure quarterly estimates of change in, and levels of, average hourly and average weekly (pre-tax) earnings, average weekly paid hours, and the number of filled jobs.


  • Measurements:
    • Unitary count of persons (#)
    • Thousands of New Zealand dollars (Ths. NZD)
  • Adjustments:
    • Trend
    • Seasonally adjusted (SA)
    • Not seasonally adjusted (NSA)
  • Native frequency: Quarterly
  • Start date: 1989Q1


  • Method through 2020 - 1989 to 2020
  • Employmne by industry - 1999 to 2020
  • Earnings per week / ANZSIC 1996 - 2001 to 2009

The source writes:

Operation of the survey

QES statistics are derived quarterly from approximately 18,000 surveyed business locations in a range of industries and regions throughout New Zealand. Information relates to the payweek ending on, or immediately before, the 20th of the middle month of the quarter. Therefore, the reference months are February, May, August and November.

The QES is a panel survey. This means that all businesses in the sample are surveyed in each quarter until the sample is reselected or redesigned. Some businesses are rotated out when the sample is reselected or redesigned. The need to maintain a sample that provides good coverage of economic activity means that smaller businesses have a higher chance of being rotated out of the sample than larger ones. Between a sample reselection or redesign, businesses are removed if they cease or stop employing staff. A sample of new businesses and businesses that come into the scope of the survey is also introduced each quarter.

Results from the quarterly (monitoring) samples are available approximately three months after the survey reference month.


The survey population comprises all business locations owned by economically significant enterprises in surveyed industries that employ staff.

An economically significant enterprise is one that meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • has greater than $30,000 annual GST expenses or sales
  • has at least three for its rolling mean employment (the average employee count over the previous 12 months)
  • is in a GST-exempt industry (except residential property leasing and rental)
  • is part of a group of enterprises
  • is a new GST registration that is compulsory, special or forced
  • is registered for GST and involved in agriculture or forestry.

The following Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) industries are excluded from coverage:

  • A01 = Agriculture
  • A02 = Services to agriculture
  • A04 = Commercial fishing
  • I6301 = International sea transport
  • L7711 = Residential property operators
  • M813 = Foreign government representation
  • Q97 = Private households employing staff

Non-civilian staff in ANZSIC classification M82 Defence are also excluded.

Addition of businesses to the QES sample

In each quarter, businesses enter or leave the sample in order to make it as representative as possible of the surveyed industries.

There are three types of businesses that enter the sample (known as sample births):

  • A new enterprise with paid employees. These are new GST registrations within the scope of the QES. A sample of these is selected for each quarter.
  • A business location that was not surveyed in the previous quarter and has transferred to a surveyed enterprise in the recent quarter. Examples are takeovers and mergers. The QES tracks enterprises. Therefore, all in-scope business locations belonging to a sampled enterprise are surveyed.
  • An existing enterprise that has started to employ paid labour. These are businesses that have come within the scope of the QES and are usually small enterprises. A typical example is a business with two working proprietors that has started employing staff.

Filled jobs

It should be noted that the QES measures the number of filled jobs, not the number of people employed. Individuals with more than one job are counted at each workplace. Filled-job figures comprise QES estimates of full-time and part-time paid employees at surveyed business locations in surveyed industries, plus working proprietors in those locations and industries. This measure excludes jobs held by those in working proprietor-only businesses


The QES average earnings statistic does not provide a reliable measure of wage inflation. The QES movements shown by average earnings statistics are influenced not only by changes in employees' remuneration (resulting from changes in wage rates), salaries and paid hours but also by changes in the composition of the paid workforce from survey to survey.

Movements in average earnings statistics are influenced not only by changes in employees' remuneration resulting from changes in wage rates, salaries and hours worked but also by changes in the composition of the paid workforce from survey to survey. A measure that separates out the effects of employee remuneration and compositional changes in the workforce on these movements is not available.

Compositional changes that may affect movements in average earnings statistics and changes in weighted contributions include changes in the relative numbers of employees and their paid hours. These changes occur between males and females, full-timers and part-timers, different industries or within industries, and between different sectors or within sectors. (See the following section, Changes in weighted contribution, for more information.)

This means that the QES does not provide a good measure of pure wage inflation, as it is not possible to isolate shifts in numbers of employees and paid hours from pure wage increases. The QES collects total payout information for each business in the survey. An increase (or decrease) in total payout does not necessarily indicate that there has been an increase (or decrease) in wages. Total payout for a firm could have increased because more people were employed, more hours were worked, more qualified people were employed, or more full-time workers were employed. Survey respondents are not asked to explain changes in total payout from period to period; therefore, there is no way to isolate a pure wage increase.

Key points to note

Average ordinary time earnings include all shift, penal and other allowances: bonuses; paid leave; and commissions earned in the survey payweek. Payments not earned in the week (such as back pay, redundancy and severance pay) and non-taxable payments (such as tool money) are excluded. In contrast, the Labour Cost Index (LCI) excludes irregular payments such as bonuses and commissions, and also excludes increases in salary and wage rates due to service increments and merit promotions. Casual employees and those employees temporarily absent from work due to sickness, leave, industrial disputes and being temporarily laid off are included only if they are paid in the survey reference week.

Glossary of terms

Business Frame (BF)
a listing of all economically significant businesses in New Zealand. The BF is maintained by Statistics New Zealand. The survey population for the QES is a subset of the BF.
Employee count (EC)
an attribute associated with each business in the population. It comes from the BF and is obtained from taxation data. EC is used only for sample design purposes.
survey estimate of all full-time and part-time paid employees.
a business or service entity operating in New Zealand.
Filled jobs
survey estimate of all full-time and part-time paid employees, plus working proprietors in businesses that have paid employees.
Full-time equivalent employees (FTEs)
survey estimate of all full-time paid employees, plus half the number of part-time paid employees.

Possible but rare.

Further reading

At the source:


  • New Zealand does not adhere to SDDS