The collection of Public Service workforce data provides information on the base salaries of staff in the Public Service as at 30 June each year. In 2020, the average (mean) annual salary was $84,500, an increase of 3.9% from the previous year. Private sector average earnings increased at a lower rate (2.5%) over the same period[1]. Workforce data salary movement is affected by changes in the occupational composition of the workforce, movement in staff pay, service increments, merit promotions, performance-related increases, and salary differences between new and departing staff. This salary movement is different to the LCI measures discussed in ‘Wage growth by sector’; LCI is a more refined measure of real wage movement.

The trend since 2000 is shown on the chart in first tab of the visualisation below. Since the global financial crisis in 2008/09 Public Service annual salary growth rate has averaged 2.7% over the last eleven years (2010-2020), compared with the average growth rate of 4.5% in the previous nine years (2001-2009).

Median salaries measure the mid-point of the salary distribution (half of the employees are below or above this salary level). It is less affected than average salaries by a small number of employees with very high salaries. The median salary for Public Service employees was $72,600. The growth pattern is similar to that for average salaries, discussed previously.

Average salary varies widely amongst different occupations in the Public Service as shown on the chart in the second tab of the visualisation above. In June 2020, the average salary was highest for Managers ($145,000), followed by Policy Analysts ($105,000), ICT Professionals and Technicians ($99,400), Legal, HR and Finance Professionals ($97,600) and Information Professionals ($92,900). By contrast, Social, Health and Education Workers ($73,800), Inspectors and Regulatory Officers ($67,200), Clerical and Administrative Workers ($62,500) and Contact Centre Workers ($56,500) had lower average salaries.

In the year to June 2020, the increase for non-management staff was 4.3% compared with 3.1% for management staff.

The average salary varies widely among departments. As at 30 June 2020, the average salary (excluding chief executives) ranged from $72,800 (Ministry of Social Development) to $151,700 (Social Wellbeing Agency).

Departments that have a higher proportion of staff in operational and service delivery jobs tend to have a lower average salary, e.g. Ministry of Justice, Department of Corrections, Ministry of Social Development, Department of Conservation and New Zealand Customs Service.

In contrast, agencies that have a larger proportion of staff in leadership, specialist professional and policy roles tend to have a higher average salary (e.g. Social Investment Agency, Pike River Recovery Agency, Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission, Ministry of Defence, The Treasury and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade).

Two new agencies had been added to the Public Service in 2020: the Cancer Control Agency and the National Emergency Management Agency.

[1]Calculated using average total hourly earnings for the private sector from Stats NZ’s Quarterly Employment Survey.

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