Westpac is the latest company to reveal plans to reduce its 30.3% gender pay gap. However, while more companies are taking steps to reduce their gender pay gap, recent stats have shown New Zealand's gender pay gap has remained relatively static since 2017.
The gender pay gap was 9.3 per cent in the June 2019 quarter, Stats NZ recently announced. This is the third-smallest gap since the series began in 1998.
The gender pay gap shows the difference in median hourly earnings for men and women. The median is the midpoint, meaning half of the workers earned above the median and half earned below.
“While it has remained flat since 2017, the gender pay gap has been trending down since the series began in 1998, when it was 16.2 per cent,” labour market statistics manager Scott Ussher said.
Women’s median hourly earnings from salaries and wages increased $0.75 (3.2 per cent) since the June 2018 quarter, to reach $24.50 in the June 2019 quarter. For men, the median increased $0.85 (3.3 per cent) over the same period to reach $27.00.
“When men’s hourly wages and salaries increase at a faster rate than women’s, that leads to an increase in the gender pay gap. This year they increased at roughly the same rate,” Mr Ussher said.
“The gender pay gap is a useful measure when trying to understand differences in pay between men and women, due to its simplicity. But this measure is limited. It doesn’t account for men and women doing different jobs or working different hours. It also doesn’t account for personal characteristics that can influence pay, such as qualifications and age,” Mr Ussher said.
“For example, the gender pay gap is smaller for people aged under 30 years.”
Gender pay gap varies by occupation
In the June 2019 quarter, the occupation groups with the smallest gaps were clerical and administrative workers (7.1 per cent) and labourers (9.7 per cent). The occupation groups with the largest gaps were professionals (16.7) and technicians and trade workers (16.2 per cent).
Clerical and administrative workers had the highest proportion of employed women at 73.5 per cent, while technicians and trade workers had one of the lowest at 20.4 per cent. Labourers had the lowest median hourly wage and salary earnings of all occupation groups.
Included in the clerical and administrative workers group are personal assistants, receptionists, and bookkeepers. The technicians and trades workers group includes mechanics, electricians, and chefs; while examples of professionals are doctors, ICT professionals, and accountants.
Hourly earnings increase in most occupation groups
Over the year ending June 2019, five occupation groups had an increase in hourly earnings: labourers (6.5 per cent), sales workers (5.3 per cent), technicians and trades workers (4.2 per cent), community and personal service workers (4.0 per cent), and professionals (2.4 per cent).
For women, median hourly earnings in their main job rose in six occupation groups, while for men only two increased.
Hourly earnings from wages and salaries increase 2.0 per cent
Over the year ending June 2019, median hourly earnings from wages and salaries increased $0.50 (2.0 per cent) to reach $25.50.
“Women accounted for almost 90 per cent of the increase in paid employees over the year. Women have lower wages than men on average, so a bigger increase at the lower-paid end of the workforce meant wages overall didn’t grow as much as they did for either sex individually,” Mr Ussher said.
There were increases in hourly wages and salaries for these ethnic groups: Māori (4.3 per cent), Asian (4.3 per cent), Pacific peoples (3.7 per cent), and European (3.3 per cent).
Weekly earnings from wages and salaries at $1,016
Over the year ending June 2019, median weekly earnings from wages and salaries for women increased 4.9 per cent, while for men it was 0.9 per cent.
More women working full-time contributed to the increase in median weekly earnings. The number of women in full-time employment earning wages and salaries increased 28,600 over the year.
Median weekly earnings from wages and salaries also increased for these ethnic groups: Pacific (5.1 per cent), Māori (4.1 per cent), and Asian (3.8 per cent).