Stagnant wages?

Stuff reports:

Thanks to rising house prices, stagnant wages and social inequality, renters now make up at least half of our population.

I always get suspicious when a story makes an assertion like this. It sounds like borrowed rhetoric from a politician. So I thought I would check. Have wages been stagnant?

So I looked at Stats NZ average ordinary time earnings increases. The average increase in wages by year has been:

  • 2014/15 – 3.1%
  • 2013/14 – 3.5%
  • 2012/13 – 2.2%
  • 2011/12 – 3.5%
  • 2010/11 – 4.3%

That is far from stagnant, and well beyond inflation.

This then got me thinking whether other facts asserted in the article may also be less than robust. Do renters now make up half our population?

Well according to the last census, 453,135 households rent. This compares to 940,728 households that own their home directly or through a family trust. And around 50,000 households do not own or pay rent (maybe parents own).

So around one third of households rent, not one half. A big difference. But the assertion was renters are now over half the population.  So maybe rental households have more people in them that non rental households.

Well no as Stats NZ says:

In general, rental housing tended to have fewer bedrooms than housing that was owned or in a family trust.  

So if anything it is likely the proportion of people in rental accommodation is closer to 30% than 50%.

It is one thing for an article to quote someone else making an assertion that may not be true. but if the article just stats the assertion as fact, and it isn’t, it undermines the entire article.

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