Household incomes rise but more work needed

Finance Social Development and Employment

Figures released today by Stats NZ show there was strong growth in median household incomes in 2020, before surveying was halted due to COVID-19.

Stats NZ found the median annual household income rose 6.9 percent to $75,024 in the year to June 2020 compared with a year earlier. The survey used to generate these statistics finished in late March 2020 because of the pandemic.

“Increases from wages and salaries (up 4.4 percent) and other government benefits (up 6.3 percent) contributed to the overall increase in incomes,” Grant Robertson said.

“Since coming to power this Government has focused on raising incomes, particularly for those on low to middle incomes, through a strong economy, the Families Package, increases in the minimum wage and supporting more people into work.

“Our plan is to keep New Zealand safe from COVID-19, accelerate the recovery and rebuild, and address key issues like climate change, housing affordability and child poverty. Today’s figures show a significant reduction in material hardship, however they also show that more work is required on housing and inequality,” Grant Robertson said.

Today’s report also showed that average annual housing costs increased 3.8 percent to $17,980 over the same period.

“Our priorities remain on lifting households on low to middle incomes,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“While the statistics released today are encouraging, we know we have more work to do.

“We have taken steps to support people into employment as well as upskill and train. Initiatives such as Mana in Mahi, He Poutama Rangatahi and the Apprenticeship Boost Initiative are helping move people into employment and off income support.

“We have also worked to provide New Zealand’s most vulnerable with additional support, including raising main benefit levels by $25 per week, indexing main benefits to growth in the average wage, raising the minimum wage, expanding the Flexi-wage scheme to create more jobs, and today we announced the largest increase in benefit abatement levels in over two decades.

“We are progressing the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group as well as our manifesto commitments, and remain committed to ensuring all New Zealanders in need are able to have an adequate income, are treated with respect and dignity and are able to participate meaningfully in their communities,” Carmel Sepuloni said.