‘Living wage’ set at $20.20

The contentious one size fits all ‘living wage’ has been set at $20.20 for this year.

The current minimum wage is $15.25 per hour and is set to go up to $15.75 in April.

RNZ: Living wage put at $20.20 an hour

Living wage campaigners are encouraging companies to pay a minimum of $20.20 an hour from July.

The rate, more than $4 above the adult minimum wage, is at the level needed to provide families with the necessities, they say.

Krissie, a cleaner for The Fresh Desk company in Lower Hutt, is paid the current living wage of $19.80 an hour. She said it had made a huge difference to her life.

Of course more money in their pay packet will make things easier.

Low wages are a problem, especially in sectors like aged care.

Calculating one ‘living wage’ for many situations and areas and employee ages and circumstances is an odd approach.

The minimum wage will be sufficient for many young people in their first job who have no dependants and no accumulated debt, especially if they still live with their parents or in the lower cost regions of the country.

But it is paltry for people with families living in high cost Auckland or Queenstown.

The big question is whether it is sustainable for employers who have to pay it, or if they would have to reduce staff or shut down if wage costs get too high.



  1. NOEL

     /  21st February 2017

    I’m guessing there are a number on the minimum wage holding down two jobs.
    Just the thought of those tired people on the road is enough reason for an increase.

  2. Pete Kane

     /  21st February 2017

    But of course those people rightfully get said wage, but with the balance fromus not the employer. (Wonder how much ‘under the table’ goes on between the employer and employee, where the employee can maximize state top up. (Was thinking about relations, family ties etc as an obvious starting point for such activity.)

  3. David

     /  21st February 2017

    This is rubbish. The living wage is $172.50/hr. Any less than that isn’t living, it’s just existing.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  21st February 2017

      That would be about $7000 a week, more than $358,000 a year.. Dream on if you think that anyone will have a minimum wage of $172.50 in any of our lifetimes.

      • David

         /  21st February 2017

        Look, I simply must have my nightly glass of Bollinger, the summer house in Wanaka, the winter house in Brizzy and the M5 in the garage.

        Anything less is a violation of my human rights.

  4. Pete Kane

     /  21st February 2017

    Agree David, and probably as Pete points out, a good existence for the young person living in a well heeled home, but that’s a red hearing and completely overlooks the fundamental issue.

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  21st February 2017

    Fake News.

  6. “The big question is whether it is sustainable for employers who have to pay it, or if they would have to reduce staff or shut down if wage costs get too high.”

    I guess this is one question to ask, yet I find it strangely oxymoronic …

    The big question is whether it’s sustainable for a) individual people and families who have to subsist on it, and b) the well-being of communities and hence society … ‘our’ nation?

    “If wage costs get too high” is the nub of the issue IMHO, but only due to prolonged indoctrination.

    Do we mean the so-called living wage is “too high”? How exactly? Too high to sustain the low prices hence competitiveness of the products &/or services the low-paid produce [on behalf of the owners of capital]? Too high to prevent the price of those goods and services rising, hence producing the dreaded “inflation” … Yet so many cream their pants over the inflation in Real Estate prices … which, along with its effect on rents … places further pressure on earners of the living wage or below …

    This is rubbish all right, but not because of the dollar value, be it $22.20 or $172.50. (And what perchance of people defining their own living wage?) Its rubbish because of placing a dollar value on it to begin with …

    We’re coming at the issue from the wrong direction. Human life should be measured in infinitely more and more nuanced ways than dollar value. Human life is not an “at cost” or “cost plus” manufacturing process!

    We might instead ask : How can we organise society so as to opti-maximise the well-being of individuals, groups and communities – the nation – [or the world?] – assuming the maximum of freedom for each combined with the maximum regard for the life and freedom of every other (including our natural environment) …?

    Economics [money] would play but a small and perfunctary role in such a society of real Human Beings … a means of improved relative valuation and exchange capable of getting the job done … (as above) …

    Incidentally, at 30 hours per week FTE, the average Job Seeker beneficiary, excepting supplements availabe to paid workers as well, gets about $6.84 per hour …

    • PDB

       /  21st February 2017

      Meanwhile back in the real world……….

      • Whatever you mean about this “real world” of yours PDB it is firstly only the real world as you personally perceive it … and it’s almost entirely man-made and ideologically based (or theologistically based?) … and could be remade in a different image …

        We’ve entered the ‘Anthropocene’ epoch … That means the world is ours to fashion …

        Shall we fashion it socially after a jungle … Its ‘society’ … or perhaps model some “civilisation” with higher ethical values?

        • PDB

           /  21st February 2017

          The left want more money PZ – obviously the notion of ‘money not buying you happiness’ isn’t on their radar…..

          • An irrelevant transumption PDB … Even if there’s a modicum of truth in it …. So?

            You don’t have to be a Leftie to believe “money can’t buy you happiness” …

            So what else does money buy us? Necessities? Luxuries? Security? Adventure?

            Its long been apparent that money can buy you power … influence …

            An ethical civilisation could never exclude competition and free marketing etc, except it would be “the maximum of freedom for each combined with the maximum regard for the life and freedom of every other” …

            What have you got against such a concept …?

          • Blazer

             /  21st February 2017

            Spike Millagen said..’I just want the chance to see…if money can buy…happiness’…he committed suicide.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st February 2017

          Here’s an idea, PZ. Don’t look for an employer. Look for clients and customers.

          • Here’s a counter-idea Alan, though it’s one you’re already so familiar with it [seemingly] forms the core of your being …

            Don’t look for people … human beings … Look for “clients and customers” …

            Units of production and consumption … slaves to the machine … to the machinations of ‘want and acquire’ … to the Law of the Jungle ‘Free Market’ …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  21st February 2017

              If you don’t treat clients and customers as human beings you won’t have any, PZ. Very educational that would be.

            • Oh Alan … and people call me “utopian” and “out of touch with reality” …

              Treating clients and customers as human beings is only necessary in certain industries and, even at their peak, only to certain degrees … and when you do it, as wait staff for instance have to, half the time you don’t get treated like a human being in return …

              Do you really think the composure of the check-out person at the supermarket has much to do with customer numbers? Come on! Be realistic. These are essentially privatised ‘public’ food and grocery distribution centres … Service means almost nothing … as we’ll soon discover when it doesn’t exist any more and the checkouts are all ‘self-service’ …

              Plus, so many people are “clients and customers” of corporatised bureaucracies nowadays – central and local govt – that they’re really little more than client, customer and invoice numbers … e.g. the rating base … WINZ clients to be dealt with in 15 minute appointment intervals …

              The best want-creators don’t need to worry about service … compulsive-addictive tendencies take care of that … evidence the latest smartphone releases …

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  21st February 2017

              Most bureaucracies don’t have clients, they have captive victims. Monopolies also have captive victims. Supermarkets offer choice, convenience and value for money. In all of those aspects they have to consider and cater for their customers’ preferences. In their case checkout is an option but not essential.

              However most businesses and certainly small businesses rely hugely on good relationships with their customers and clients. Just look at the importance of good feedback for Trademe sellers and Tripadvisor reviews and comments.

            • PDB

               /  21st February 2017

              New Zealand is a country full of small businesses which rely totally on positive ‘word-of-mouth’, good customer service, workmanship/quality and reputation. You need to get out more PZ, by your posts you appear to have last stepped out into the real world around 1981……..

  7. John Schmidt

     /  21st February 2017

    Lets get real. Today the difference between the dole, the minimum wage and the living wage is the size of the TV and/or the smart phone.

    • Blazer

       /  21st February 2017

      do behave John…start with the basics…food and shelter…..living in cars does not allow the luxuries you think are so common.

      • PDB

         /  21st February 2017

        You mean paying for takeaway food & alcohol every night of the week and sheltering in the pokies section at the local pub?

        • Gezza

           /  21st February 2017

          Obviously not on the dole. Dreaming you are, guys. Out of touch. It’s now a pittance, deliberately. And the cheap smart phone (or even cheaper basic cellphone) and access to the internet via a library eg are essential requirements to even interact with W&I, as you must do on a weekly basis if on the dole.

        • patupaiarehe

           /  21st February 2017

          I guess if one is living in their car Pants, takeaways are the only option…