The Average NZ Income Over the Last Decade


While the average income in New Zealand has increased a lot over the years, how does it compare to rising living costs? In this blog post, we look at the average income in NZ by industry, exploring how incomes have changed over the past decade and how it compares to minimum wages and living costs.

We also explore options for families in New Zealand who may have money worries during this time. Whether you need help budgeting your money, government financial help, or would prefer a personal finance loan to help you buy something you need now, there are options available to you. Read on to learn more.

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When figuring out the average income of workers in New Zealand, you must remember that salaries can vary a lot by industry. According to the latest data from Careers New Zealand on pay ranges in NZ, the best-paid industries in Aotearoa in 2020 included executive management, property, and information technology (IT), with median salaries ranging from $80,000 – $105,000.

Industries such as retail, customer service, hospitality, and tourism are on the lower end of the scale, with average salaries ranging from $48,000 – $50,000. Industries like healthcare (excluding health specialists), finance, trade, and education follow at an average of $55,000 – $65,000.

It’s important to mention that this data is simply a guideline and doesn’t account for things like bonus packages or overtime. Careers New Zealand highlights that people in trades or with a Level 4 qualification will generally earn more than university graduates in the first few years following qualification. However, university graduates are likely to earn more than tradespeople in the long term, with better opportunities to increase income as their experience grows.



In 2012, the adult minimum wage in NZ was $13.50 and has increased every year, in increments of $0.25-$0.50, as reflected in historic minimum wage data from Employment New Zealand.

Minimum wage rates from April 2012 to April 2020

In force from: 


1 April 2022


1 April 2021


1 April 2020


1 April 2019


1 April 2018


1 April 2017


1 April 2016


1 April 2015


1 April 2014


1 April 2013


1 April 2012



These increases in minimum wage coincide with data on median weekly earnings from wages and salaries, which have risen from $806 in 2012 to $1093 in 2021. The current minimum wage rate as it stands is due to increase from $20 to $21.20 from April the 1st, 2022. According to an official release, for people working a 40-hour week on this new minimum wage, “this increase will see them earning an extra $48 a week, and almost $2,500 more each year,” according to Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood.



While wages have gone up, is it enough to meet the rising cost of living in Aotearoa? NZ’s living costs have continued to increase throughout the pandemic. In 2021, living costs increased by 5.2%, the fastest rate in almost three decades.

Based on survey data for income and living costs, New Zealand Now shows that a commercial cleaner, living by themselves in Auckland, would not meet the estimated living costs. An estimated summary shows they would be spending about $156 more than they earn every week.

In recent news, with inflation hitting a new high of 5.9% (the largest increase in three decades), the cost of living for New Zealand families is through the roof. As costs for rent, mortgage rates, food, and petrol all rise, wages are not keeping up. Auckland and other parts of the country are becoming increasingly difficult to live in for the average earner, encouraging more people to change careers, move cities, or go into debt. While these high inflation rates were apparently expected and are very much a global issue, debates continue around possible solutions to reduce the strain on New Zealand families.



For families who need help, there are options available to you. The New Zealand Government has a range of options available such as financial support for families, childcare, and the elderly. There are also plenty of budgeting tools and resources available for those who need assistance with budgeting. If you prefer speaking to someone in person, Money Talks offers free budgeting advice over the phone.



Because of increased costs, it can take even longer to save up and pay cash for something you need now, such as a laptop for studying, a car to get to work, or even a new washing machine for the home. If you are looking for some extra financial support for immediate concerns, feel free to reach out to the team at Avanti Finance. We offer a range of financial services, including personal loans in NZ; our team can talk you through your options. Get in touch today to find out how a personal loan can help.

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