A rise in the number of job vacancies means workers should expect offers of heftier pay packets in coming months, one of the country's biggest job advertisers says.
Job listings are surging on Trade Me according to data collected in this year's first quarter but so far wages have remained comparatively stagnant.
In its economic outlook for March, ANZ bank estimated the job vacancy rate for New Zealand companies is at its highest point since 1994.
Head of Trade Me Jobs Jeremy Wade said if that was true, a wage war was just around the corner.
The company's latest data analysis showed the percentage of new listings on the site had jumped by double digits for the third consecutive quarter, but wage inflation had been "surprisingly flat by comparison", Wade said.
The job market grew by 15 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017, according to the analysis of over 65,000 vacancies advertised on Trade Me Jobs.
Data also showed a massive boom in the regions with almost every region outstripping job growth in Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington, and Auckland city topped the capital as the highest paid region for the first time since 2014.
The company had expected wages to rise one or two quarters ago, but despite some rises in lower waged work, stagnant growth in higher paid jobs had slowed the overall wage increase.
"We have seen some green shoots from some of the lower wage roles," Wade told the Herald.
"House cleaning, bar and barista work have grown between 2 and 4 per cent year-on-year.
"We expect also with the minimum wage changing from the first of April, that will make another sharp change."
On average, housekeeping wages were up 3.3 per cent, caregivers up 0.6 per cent, retail assistants up 2.6 per cent and bar and barista up 3.5 per cent.
Technology continues to be the most lucrative career option on Trade Me Jobs, with all five of the top salary spots taken by IT roles.
IT architects were number one again with an average salary of $144,563.
Wade said increased migration was also a factor in muted wage growth, but he predicted the tide was turning for workers.
"Employers are unlikely to continue finding the right people unless they tempt passive job seekers with the lure of better pay.
"Money talks and we suspect Kiwi employers will need to meet the job market with higher salaries in the coming months."
Meanwhile in the regions, job growth was booming and most of New Zealand's small towns were outstripping the bigger cities when it came to job vacancies.
"Almost every region in the country had double-digit percentage jumps in new listings compared to last year," Wade said.
Leading the pack was Gisborne, up 40 per cent, Waikato, up 36.5 per cent and West Coast, up 32.4 per cent.
"Some of these regions have pretty small job markets but these numbers are incredible. The jump in new listings in the regions has been led by transport and logistics, manufacturing and operations and construction sectors."
He said it was positive to see no indication there was a shortfall of job opportunities for people leaving Auckland's overheated housing market for the regions.
The only region to fall compared to this time last year was Canterbury, down 2 per cent.
Wade put the decrease down to a "recalibration" of the job market from its post-earthquake building boom.
And for the first time since mid-2014, Auckland City has wrestled the average highest pay ($71,817) away from Wellington City ($67,592).
Both Wellington and Auckland had seen 'huge' growth in new job listings, up 14 per cent and 15.9 per cent respectively, Wade said.
While Auckland's new top spot could be an anomaly, Wade said job advertisements in Auckland "have been outstripping Wellington consistently the last couple of years and we think that has put a gradual pressure on wages".
"Auckland employers are feeling the pinch when trying to employ new people and have been putting more money on the table."