New Zealanders' wages failing to keep up with rate of inflation

With the cost of living skyrocketing and wages failing to keep up, it's never been so expensive to simply exist.

Inflation, which measures the increasing cost of everything we buy, is now near 5 percent - but people's pay packets aren't growing with it.

Official data shows 46 percent of workers got no pay rise in the year to June, and while 38 percent did get a boost it was less than inflation's 5 percent. A lucky 16 percent got an increase over 5 percent. 

If you're still waiting, now could be a good time to ask for a raise. 

"Definitely worth having that conversation with employers around trying to meet that increased cost of living," says Brad Olsen, principal economist at Infometrics.

A recruitment expert says the best way to go about it is honesty.

"For those people whose cost of living and what they're bringing in in their roles is actually difficult to make ends meet, that's a good reason to ask for a pay rise," says managing director of Hays Recruitment, Adam Shapley.

If you need some context for your claim, this is what now costs more: rent, rates, insurance, clothing, furniture, and food.

"Our prices, if I look at four weeks of June, compared to the most recent four weeks, we're somewhere between 2 to 3 percent up in total basket price, the bulk of that is contained in the supplier price increases," says Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quinn.

Newshub has obtained internal data from Foodstuffs North Island, which owns New World and Pak'nSave stores. It shows almost 7 percent of all food producers asked for their prices on the shelf to be hiked in September - that's 47 percent more than last year.

"That's higher than we have seen for quite some time," Quinn adds.

The average price increase was about 6 percent, but some were as high as 20 percent. 

Suppliers say they have no choice after holding off hiking prices in last year's lockdown. 

"They think very carefully before they put their prices up and in many cases work very hard to absorb the cost increases they might be facing, but it's got beyond that, there's only so much you can absorb before you go out of business," says Food and Grocery Council CEO Katherine Rich.

With everyday essentials more expensive, there is a real risk people could stop shopping, worsening our already COVID-ravaged economy.