Western Bay workers who missed out on a pay rise due to the tough economy are likely to be rewarded this year - but only if they are in high-demand industries.
Employment experts say job prospects and pay look brighter, but those in struggling industries are still unlikely to see even a cost of living increase.
Last year, many workers missed an increase, although recruitment agents say the mood picked up at year's end.
Industries likely to see a healthier pay packet include those involved in the Christchurch rebuild including infrastructure, construction, project management and engineering.
Workers in health, sales, and technical roles could also see an increase.
But those in non-skilled and semi-skilled roles may be out of luck due to a surplus of people competing for administrative roles and a lean retail climate.
Phill van Syp, managing director of 1st Call Recruitment, told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend companies in high-demand industries were paying more to get the right person for the job.
Workers who knew they would be hard to replace could ask for a pay rise.
"Know your market value, make a case. You can't just put your hand out. You've got to claim why."
The job market was looking much better than this time a year ago, with pay rates edging up at the end of 2012.
Ian Chitty, managing director of Tauranga's Personnel Resources/ Temp Resources, said good workers who were in demand were being offered more money.
Bonuses and target-related one-off payments were being offered rather than salary increases.
Industries losing workers chasing more money overseas were having to offer more money to retain staff.
"I think we're seeing more willingness by employers to get a cost of living raise - they're adjusting if there's a good demand there," Mr Chitty said. "But if there's a surplus amount of people, it's probably the same pay rates as last year."
Claudia Nelson, owner/operator of Tauranga-based recruitment agency The Right Staff, expects pay rises to be given out dependent on a worker's experience and demand for their skill.
"There'll be some people who businesses want to hold on to and make sure they don't lose them. In the interest of that they might pay more."
Construction-related workers who didn't get a rise last year were likely to get it now due to demand from Christchurch. Workers hard to replace, in roles requiring highly specific knowledge - such as a combination of sales and technical expertise - could also demand better pay.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason said pay rises last year were generally given either to keep up with inflation only, or to reward a key worker.
Workers likely to see pay rises this year were those in technical and sales roles. But the trend was towards a basic salary with a commission-based reward component.
"People who are very productive can make pretty good money."
Average weekly earning
Bay of Plenty: $820
- Source 2012 figures, Statistics New Zealand