New tool lets you compare your income with everyone else in your town

Now that everyone has smartphones and 'flatscreen' TVs are cheaper than they've ever been, it can be hard to tell whether you're keeping up with the Joneses or not.

But if you're looking to have that kind of anxiety back in your life, Statistics NZ has your back. It's just released a new interactive tool that lets you see the average income in your part of the country, and how it's changed over the past decade.

"Our tool demonstrates what we can do solely from tax data and is part of ongoing work to develop new statistics using existing data," said analytics manager Alan Bentley.

"For example, we can see that median annual income for women in their early 40s in the Gore district increased from $27,800 in 2009 to $37,400 in 2017."

The figures are divided by age group, sex, region and district. It goes from 2009 to 2017 - more up-to-date data isn't yet ready as self-employed tax forms don't have to be submitted for two years. 

For example, the median income in Auckland city for men rose from $41,800 in 2009 to $52,000 in 2017 - an increase of $10,200. Women in the super city didn't fare as well - going from $32,500 to just $40,000. 

The tool allows you to see what areas have improved their incomes relative to the rest of the country - such as the South Island's Mackenzie District (up $10,600) and Waikato (up a massive $13,000) and which have struggled, including the Grey District (up only $7800) and South Taranaki (up $8000). 

Statistics NZ says the data only covers income from wages, salaries and self-employed sources, and excludes benefits and investment income. There might also be some overlap for people who earn both wages and self-employed income, with 18.6 percent of workers also running their own business on the side according to the latest Household Labour Force Survey.

Statistics NZ says the data is "experimental", and not to be confused with official statistics.

"These estimates are not, at this stage, intended to replace existing official statistics about income derived from the census or from household surveys," the agency explains. 

More precise data covering areas as small as 100-200 people has also been released in spreadsheet form. 

This data also shows the top-earning group in New Zealand is Wellington men aged 45-49, with a median income of $95,400. The top-earning women are also in Wellington, aged 55-59, taking home $61,600 on average.

The lowest incomes were unsurprisingly reported by 15- to 19 year-olds.

Try the new tool for yourself on the Statistics NZ website