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New Zealand Income Survey: June 2011 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  06 October 2011

About the New Zealand Income Survey

The New Zealand Income Survey (NZIS) produces a comprehensive range of income statistics. This allows analysis of the links between labour force status, educational achievement, and income of individuals and households, both at an aggregate level and for sub-populations of interest. 

The information is then used to make policy decisions on economic and social issues that affect all New Zealanders, including retirement, education, income tax, minimum wage, and infrastructure developments. The government uses this information to estimate the number of people that could be affected by changes in legislation, and what those effects might be.

The NZIS is run annually as a supplement to the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) during the June quarter (1 April to 30 June). It ran for the first time in the June 1997 quarter.

More definitions

Actual pay: what the respondent actually earned in their last pay period or in the reference week.

Average (mean): the average value – the mean is calculated by adding two or more figures and dividing the sum by the number of figures.

Employed: people in the working-age population who, during the reference week:

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment
  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work that contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative, or
  • had a job but were not at work due to own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.

Full-time employment: when an employee works 30 hours or more a week.

Government transfers: income from benefits, working for families tax credits, paid parental leave, student allowances, ACC payments, New Zealand superannuation, and veteran's and war pensions.

Hourly earnings: number of hours usually worked and the usual income, rather than the hours actually paid for and actual hours worked.

In paid employment: people who receive self-employment income and/or income from wages and salaries. 'Not in paid employment' are those who do not fit the 'in paid employment' category. These people may or may not have a source of income.

Labour force status: people ‘in the labour force’ are either employed or unemployed.

Median: the point at which half the people receive more and half receive less than the stated amount.

Since the 2008 release a greater emphasis has been put on medians, because extremely high or low incomes tend to have less influence on median amounts than they do on an average (mean) figure.

Not in the labour force: anyone in the working-age population who is not employed or unemployed. This residual category includes people who:

  • are retired 
  • have personal or family responsibilities such as unpaid housework and childcare
  • attend educational institutions
  • are permanently unable to work due to physical or mental disabilities
  • were temporarily unavailable for work in the survey reference week
  • are not actively seeking work.

Other transfers: a category in the tables that refers to the sum of private superannuation and other private transfers, including pensions and annuities.

Part-time employment: employment in which the employee works less than 30 hours per week.

Quintile: one-fifth of the population. The bottom quintile in terms of income represents the 20 percent of the population with the lowest personal incomes, while the top quintile represents the 20 percent of the population who receive the highest incomes.

Quintile boundary: the dollar value at which the quintile falls. In the June 2011 quarter the bottom quintile had income below $190 per week (rounded figures), the quintile boundary between quintiles one and two is $190.

Sampling error: a measure of the variability that occurs by chance because a sample rather than an entire population is surveyed.

Significant change: if a change in an estimate between quarters a year apart is larger than the associated sampling error, it is referred to as a significant change. In this release, non-significant changes have been referred to as slight or small changes.

Unemployed: all persons in the working-age population who, during the reference week, were without a paid job, available for work, and had either actively sought work in the past four weeks ending with the reference week, or had a new job to start within the next four weeks.

Usual pay: what the respondent usually earns in their pay, which may be different from actual pay.

Working-age population: the population the NZIS represents. It is the same population as the Household Labour Force Survey, and consists of the usually resident, non-institutionalised, civilian population of New Zealand aged 15 years and over.

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