Industries where salaries have boomed since COVID

Salary is unsurprisingly a key factor for candidates deciding to take on a new role – or stay in their current job.

And with so much change in the job market in the past few years, being across salary trends is crucial to remaining competitive as an employer.

The latest SEEK salary data can guide your approach to attracting talent, having salary conversations with current employees and writing job ads.

For 49% of candidates, salary and compensation are more important now than compared to before COVID.

The main trigger for candidates to look for a new job is “not getting paid enough”. And now that job security has become key, candidates are looking for a 10-20% salary increase before they move jobs.

The number of job ads rose 31% in February 2022, compared to February 2019, SEEK research shows. At the same time, the numbers of job application levels continue to be at low levels compared to historical trends.

We’ve put together the top 20 jobs in New Zealand that have experienced the biggest salary increases between late 2019 and early 2022. Note that these are the average advertised salaries listed on SEEK (but not necessarily the salary accepted by a candidate).

See the trends
Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Production Worker 33% $ 47,600
Retail & Consumer Products Grocery Assistant 30% $ 47,323
Accounting Accounting Role 28% $ 106,789
Construction Traffic Controller 28% $ 46,561
Healthcare & Medical Coordinator 28% $ 74,860
Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Sorter 28% $ 44,902
Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Labourer 27% $ 45,172
Hospitality & Tourism Guest Services Agent 26% $ 45,549
Retail & Consumer Products Checkout Operator 26% $ 46,670
Trades & Services Service Manager 26% $ 105,976
Hospitality & Tourism Room Attendant 25% $ 44,751
Trades & Services Hammerhand 25% $ 54,609
Construction Carpenter 23% $ 70,635
Hospitality & Tourism Porter 23% $ 45,170
Retail & Consumer Products Produce Assistant 23% $ 48,844
Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Picker and Packer 22% $ 43,356
Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Hoist Operator 22% $ 50,858
Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Processing Officer 22% $ 44,718
Sport & Recreation Trainer 22% $ 72,329
Marketing & Communications Communications Specialist 21% $ 97,874

Source: SEEK, based on average annual full time and annualised hourly salaries (excluding contract roles) for job ads listed on SEEK from Nov 21-Feb 22 compared to Nov 19-Feb 20.

Why salaries have been rising

Wage increases are widespread across industries, says Doug Steel, senior economist at Bank of New Zealand. As many of us are keenly aware, with a strong demand for labour, and labour in short supply, it’s an employee’s market.

“The labour market across the board is very, very strong. The demand for goods and services has been very elevated, so the demand for labour has been strong at a time when labour has been restricted with the borders closed.

“SEEK job ads are up 31% compared to pre-COVID and are at record highs. That talks to the extreme labour demand.”

Border restrictions during the pandemic have dramatically cut growth in New Zealand’s available workforce, Steel says.

“Before COVID, there were about 90,000 people on net coming into the country including families. In the last year, there’s been a net outflow of more than 7,000. In the New Zealand context, that's an enormous change in the number of people and has tightened the labour supply significantly.

“That’s why we’re looking at application levels well below historic trends. There just aren’t as many people out there looking for jobs.”

Businesses are struggling to find both skilled and unskilled labour, Steel says. “That’s at the highest level since we've seen that data start back in the 1970s.”

The rising cost of living also means candidates are looking around for better pay. “People are really feeling cost of living pressures. It’s no wonder that the labour market turnover is as high as it is.”

The jobs that are in demand

We’re seeing consistent demand for contract and permanent staff in every sector, says Rose Guise, Associate Director of Robert Walters Wellington. “This has tracked steadily upwards month on month since July 2020.”

The formation of government COVID response teams plus pre-existing transformation programs means we are at all-time low for talent, Guise says. “Each agency is competing against many others every time they go to market. 

“Our banks and regulators are also stretched with their multi-year transformation programs crying out for added resources, from specialists to administrators.”

Top pay for manufacturing, transport and logistics

The Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics sector saw some of the biggest increases in salary over the 2-year period.

For Production Workers, the average advertised salary rose 33% to an average of $47,000. A Sorter’s average salary rose risen 28% to $44,902, while a Labourer’s average salary is now $45,172, up 27%.

Growth in salary in retail and consumer products

In Retail and Consumer Products, the average salary for a Grocery Assistant rose 30% to $47,323.

The average salary for a Checkout Operator increased by 26% to $46,670, while the average salary of a Produce Assistant rose 23% to $48,844.

What salary growth means for employers

Be clear about what you can offer, Guise says. “Understand your career pathways, development opportunities, remuneration packages and benefits, because the candidate will use these as key factors in their decision to join your organisation.

“Candidates understand their power in this market and are doing their due diligence.”

Tips for attracting talent in this environment

We are about to open our borders, and this is a key time to attract talent before they land, Guise says. “Use every available option you have, and run a tight campaign.”

  • Understand your competition and do your research on what they’re going to pay for a similar resource.
  • Highlight your value proposition and incorporate it in your recruitment activities.
  • Use digital channels to attract candidates.
  • Act fast: speed is a major factor. As well as timeliness, communicate clearly with the candidate at every step of the process to avoid missing out at the last hurdle.

With worker shortages and unemployment at record lows, it’s a candidate’s market right now. That’s why it’s key for businesses and organisations to position themselves as attractively to candidates as possible. Knowing which roles and industries are offering higher salaries will help you stay competitive in your approach to securing talent – but considering other points of appeal beyond salary may take you the extra mile.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published April 2022.