Statistics that show Wairarapa pay packets are getting fatter are "simply not telling the whole story", according to Wairarapa Labour candidate Kieran McAnulty.
Mr McAnulty said the latest Census may have identified a rise in incomes in the six years from 2006 but took no account of inflation.
"The National Government and its supporters can celebrate what they like, but it is utterly pointless trumpeting these figures without taking inflation into consideration," he said.
Last year's Census - the first for six years due to the 2010 Census being cancelled because of the Christchurch earthquakes - identified a 20 per cent rise in median incomes in the Carterton district, a 19 per cent rise in South Wairarapa and an increase of just over 16 per cent in Masterton.
On those figures, incomes in South Wairarapa went from $24,200 to $28,900 to go beyond the national average of $28,500.
Mr McAnulty said the median can rise as a result of an increase "to those at the top, while those in the lower half make very few income gains."
"What is more the Reserve Bank states inflation was 21 per cent over the same period, even more damaging for those who aren't in the higher income bracket. This clearly shows that in real terms for most of us in Wairarapa, incomes have actually gone backwards.
"Incomes are not keeping up with the rising cost of living," Mr McAnulty said.
In Masterton the new median income of $25,300 does not buy as much as it did in 2006, he said.
Mr McAnulty said another factor which heavily distorted the income figures was that many Wairarapa people commute each day to high-paying jobs in Wellington.
"I also find it interesting those celebrating the supposed rise in median incomes failed to include Northern Wairarapa which encompasses the Tararua district, in their calculations.
"In that area the median income has risen only 9 per cent since 2006, less than half the rate of inflation."
Mr McAnulty said if median income figures were averaged out over the whole region, and weighted for population, the increase in income for Wairarapa over the six years would be only 17.5 per cent.
Mr McAnulty said he was "all for celebrating Wairarapa's successes".
"We have many things to be proud of, but regrettably rising incomes is not one of them."