By Amanda Morrall
Housing costs are continuing to outpace income growth in New Zealand with close to 22% of householders now paying 30% or more of their earnings to put a roof over their head and renters most financially constrained, according to Statistics New Zealand's latest Household Economic Survey (HES).
Two years ago, when the last survey was done, an estimated 19.5% of householders were paying 30% or more for housing costs.
Statistics New Zealand said in its commentary the cost crunch was being felt most acutely by renters with housing costs (as a proportion of income) having leapt from 33.8% for the year ended 2009 to 39.1% for the year ending in 2011. Higher weekly rents are a major factor.
Over that two year period, average weekly expenditure on rent jumped 6.6%.
While average weekly expenditure on property rates has also shot up by 9.3%, homeowners haven't felt the same levels of pain. A drop in interest rates during that time saw average weekly mortgage payments drop from $376 to $369.
For households that own their own dwelling, the proportion of those spending 30% or more of their income on housing was more or less unchanged; 12.5% in 2008/09 compared to 12.6% 2010/2011. The proportion spending 40% or more was similarly static; 6.3% and 6.9% respectively.
Total housing costs as a proportion of regular household income across both groups (renters and home owners) rose from 15.1% to 16% between 2009 to 2011.
Incomes over that time frame have been mostly flat.
Average household incomes (from all regular sources) was NZ$78,019 in 2009, compared to NZ$79,159 at the end of 2011 while median annual household regular income (an arguably more representative measure) decreased from $63,237 to $62,853.
Statistics New Zealand notes the last "significant change" in annual annual household income was between 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 when it went from $74,408 to $78,019.
See full HES report details here.