Key Points:

The average annual income of New Zealand households has increased only slightly faster than the rate of inflation during the past three years, official figures show.

Statistics New Zealand's three-yearly household economic survey puts average annual household income at $67,973 in 2006/07, up 10.2 per cent from $61,668 in 2003/04.

In comparison, a Statistics NZ official said the consumer price index had increased 9.1 per cent between the year ending in the June 2004 quarter and the year ending in the June 2007 quarter. But while the average income figure has done little better than inflation, the wage and salaries component of it has risen nearly twice as fast, up 17.7 per cent to $50,235.

Income from self-employment was down 24.5 per cent to $4213, from investments it was up 17.4 per cent to $3057, superannuation and war pensions rose 1.6 per cent to $3970, and government benefits were up 5.7 per cent to $3740.

The median annual household income was up 14.3 per cent to $55,976. The median figure means half of households receive more and half receive less.

The survey also found that in 2006/07 average weekly household net expenditure was $956. The three largest components of that expenditure were housing and household utilities at 23 per cent, food at 16 per cent and transport at 14 per cent.

Questions on material standard of living were introduced to the survey for the first time, with people being asked how satisfied they were with their standard of living, and how adequately their income met their everyday needs.

Nationally, 75 per cent of households were satisfied or very satisfied with their material standard of living, while only 10 per cent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

Fifty-one per cent of all households reported their income was enough or more than enough to meet their everyday needs for such things as accommodation, food and clothing.

For households among the bottom 20 per cent of income earners - below $25,800 - only 31 per cent reported their income was enough or more than enough. For those in the top 20 per cent - above $98,800 - the proportion was 79 per cent.

Information in the survey was gathered from about 4500 private households chosen at random throughout the country between July 2006 and June 2007.

According to the survey, the 32 per cent of homes with a mortgage spent an average of $271 a week on mortgage payments, while for the 29 per cent of households renting, average weekly rent was $220 a week.

For all households, average weekly expenditure on housing and household utilities was $224, with $36 a week going on energy.

Weekly average household expenditure on food was $156, with $68 on grocery food, while restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food accounted for $38 a week.

The survey reported a weekly average of $19 on alcoholic beverages, with 55 per cent of households reporting such spending, but Statistics NZ said spending on alcohol was known to be under-reported.

Transport took up an average of $136 a week. Of that $67 went on supplies and servicing for private transport, an average of $38 a week went on petrol. The purchase of vehicles accounted for $48.

Average weekly spending on recreation and culture was $97, with subscriber television charges the largest single item at $6.

- NZPA