Growth in workers’ pay packets fell back into the Reserve Bank’s 3 percent to 6 percent target range for inflation in the fourth quarter of last year – for the first time since the start of 2007. The year-on-year growth in “nominal remuneration” was only 6 percent, after nearly five years of average increases above the target range.

The moderation was due to “a marked deceleration in public sector wage growth to 3.8 percent, while private sector wage growth accelerated marginally to 6.8 percent”, according to the bank’s Quarterly Bulletin, released yesterday.

However, in several sectors wage settlements remained well above the target ceiling.

Workers in the non-gold mining sector received increases of 24.5 percent, due to special bonus payments, the bank said. Increases for gold miners were 12.6 percent.

Down the scale but still above the ceiling were: community, social and personal services, 6.9 percent; private transport, storage and communication, 6.9 percent; electricity, 6.8 percent; and manufacturing, 6.2 percent.

First-quarter figures quoted in the bulletin came from Andrew Levy Employment Publications, which showed the average wage settlement in collective bargaining moderated to 7.3 percent from 7.7 percent last year.

Workers can take comfort from a more benign outlook for inflation, which is back within the range. – Ethel Hazelhurst