Industries where salaries have boomed since COVID

If you’re thinking about changing jobs, or just wondering how your current job stacks up, SEEK’s latest data reveals what salaries are booming to help you in your job search or next salary conversation.

Money is the top reason why people move jobs. In fact, for 49% of people, salary and compensation are more important to them than before the pandemic. And with the great job boom upon us, now might be the right time to make your next move. 

We’ve put together a list of New Zealand’s top 20 jobs that have seen the biggest increases in salary since before COVID-19. 

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. And with a strong demand for workers, and workers in short supply, it’s an employee’s market right now.

“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 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. 

The rising cost of living also means people 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.”

Steel notes that there has also been a welcome rise in the minimum wage. “Between February 2020 and February 2022, the minimum wage was lifted 13%. This has had both direct and indirect effects on wages, especially at the lower end of the income spectrum.”

The jobs that are in demand

These increases mean that workers in traditionally lower-paying roles – such as manufacturing and retail – have more ability for leverage than ever before, says Janet Pottinger, Adecco New Zealand Country Manager.

Some sectors have seen huge increases in average salaries.

Top pay for manufacturing, transport and logistics

Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics had the biggest increase in salary over two years. The average advertised salary of a Production Worker has risen 33% to an average of $47,000.

A Sorter’s average salary has risen 28% to $44,902, while a Labourer’s average salary is now $45,172, up 27%.

COVID isolation rules in New Zealand have had a huge impact on the manufacturing sector, says Samantha Steven, Associate Director of Robert Walters Auckland.

“One positive COVID-19 case anywhere in a supply chain can bring the entire process to a grinding halt, whether the case was in the manufacturing, packaging, transport or sales stage of the product lifecycle.”

The major shortage of offshore materials and products being imported into the country means manufacturers are relying on local suppliers to satisfy consumer demand, Steven says.

“As a result, the entire industry needs more staff at all stages of the supply chain process.”

Spike in salary in retail and consumer products

In Retail & Consumer Products, the average salary for Grocery Assistant roles rose 30% to $47,323, making it the second-biggest increase after that for Production Worker roles.

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.

How you can take advantage of these market changes

When an industry is in desperate need of specific skillsets, the people who hold those skillsets are set to benefit, says Steven.

“For job seekers, this means they can demand a higher salary for doing the same job, which is good news! It also means that people are in a position to ask existing employers for more substantial pay reviews as well as considering external moves to allow the salary hike.”

The difference between employers could be $10,000 to $20,000 for the same role, so explore multiple opportunities to understand the salaries being offered, she suggests.

“In the current market, organisations who are ‘up with the play’ and hungry to secure top talent will do so by paying top dollar.”

If you are aiming for a pay rise in your current role, Pottinger suggests approaching your employer confidently and referencing what’s happening in the market, but not demanding that they meet a certain base salary.

“There may be other considerations for the future, and you certainly don’t want to be burning any bridges,” she says. 

Pottinger says if you’re weighing up multiple job offers at the same salary level, it’s important to also look at the benefits a prospective employer can offer you – such as flexible working arrangements or learning and development options.

If your industry has seen an increase in salaries, keep this in mind during when discussing pay for a new role, or during your next salary conversation. With businesses struggling to find staff, now is the time to look around at what’s on offer. Depending on your industry, there may be plenty of room to negotiate salary with a new employer – or your current one.

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