Pay rates are rising as much as 33 per cent in some sectors as competition for workers heats up amid the labour crunch.
According to Seek, manufacturing, logistics and transport had the highest salary growths of 27 to 33 per cent in one year.
Figures from Trade Me show in the first quarter of this year the Tauranga district had a 19 per cent year-on-year increase in job listings while Rotorua was up by 17 per cent.
Bay of Plenty recruitment agents say employers are paying higher hourly rates to retain staff because vacant positions are so difficult to fill.
Nationally the largest annual salary increases were agriculture, fishing and forestry and construction and roading, which both had an eight per cent increase in salaries while automotive, trades and services and property saw salaries rise by seven per cent.
Data from jobseeker website Seek reveals even larger shifts in salaries for some roles. Comparing salary growth between November 2019 and February 2020 with the corresponding period the following year, it found salaries for some manufacturing roles, such as production, increased by 33 per cent over the period.
Kristen Bangs, of Top Staff Solutions, said the chronic labour shortage could also be opening up new opportunities for people with criminal records or past issues with drug addiction to enter the workforce.
Bangs, who has 100 vacancies on her books in Rotorua and Tauranga, is supporting candidates to become drug-free and overcome barriers to get work-ready.
''If people are honest and truthful we can help them. If you have been rejected before it is easy to get in that rut and give up. I just want to encourage people to keep on going.''
Bangs said finding workers to fill positions was difficult as demand in the labour market soared.
''We have had some movement in the last few weeks with candidates but we are not getting the high volumes. In the past we could get up to 50 applicants, now we are getting two.''
She said 60 per cent of the jobs on their books were in sawmills while other roles were in construction, logistics, manufacturing and painting.
''It's the worst I have seen it (the worker shortage) for entry-level positions. One employer said to me last week that staff could name their price and they would pay $24 to $25 an hour as a minimum.''
Personnel Resources / Temp Resources Rotorua manager Angelique Scott said experienced staff getting not much more than the minimum wage were seeking more money.
''We are finding the people who are paid anywhere from $22 to $24 are really the people who will be looking for an increase. You will have a junior coming in on the minimum wage earning as much as someone who has years of experience.''
She said employers were training, promoting from within and paying higher hourly rates to retain staff.
Human Resources and administration roles were popular while accounting and finance roles were the hardest to fill.
Most clients required a clear Ministry of Justice check and a lot of sites required a clear drug test.
Ryan and Alexander Recruitment Agency director Kiri Burney said job seekers could have multiple offers and were considering salary, benefits and future opportunities within each of their options.
Business support roles were still attracting a solid amount of applications and part-time roles were highly sought after.
However, technical roles like engineers, planners, surveyors and chartered accountants were difficult to find.
Burney said in terms of a criminal record some employers were willing to consider individuals, depending on the nature of the offence.
Employers it dealt with also had drug policies for Health and Safety reasons.
Drake NZ marketing manager Alexandra Tidy said an increasing amount of candidates wanted to know the selling points of a job before they applied.
''Some of these could be salary, security/stability, flexibility, job location and career development.''
Factory and warehouse roles were paying more than the minimum wage while fork hoist operators, warehouse assistants, production assistants and more skilled technical roles such as service technicians had pay increases.
There was an increased demand in manufacturing and construction, warehousing, distribution, logistics and healthcare.
Trade Me Jobs sales director Matt Tolich said open borders would see a number of sectors, particularly hospitality and tourism, pick up.
''This will shake up the talent-short jobs market. On the flip side, there will be a large number of Kiwis finally packing up and heading overseas after putting their OE on hold for the past couple of years.
''Attracting and retaining talent will be essential for businesses looking to make the most of the inevitable influx of holidaymakers entering the country."
Seek country manager NZ Rob Clark said the market was incredibly tight and job ads were at record levels.
Job ads were higher than they were pre-pandemic for a full year.
''What is interesting is many of the roles that saw the largest growth in salaries were the essential workers - production assistants, grocery workers and healthcare - that kept businesses ticking over. These roles were and continue to be vital and evergreen.
''The rise in salaries is likely to be a reflection of businesses needing to retain and attract them in the tight job market.''
Tauranga Business Chamber spokeswoman Laura Boucher said it was a good time to be in the market for a new job.
''There is still a demand for highly skilled workers, and employers are willing to go above and beyond to secure talent. Businesses are focussing on what other added value they can provide staff as a tool to retain and recruit, such as workplace culture, flexible working hours and company perks.''
She said after two years of closed borders it should come as no surprise that Kiwis would want to head overseas again for an OE or a career change.
''There will be tough competition too, as other countries employ recruitment incentives to attract skilled workers.
''While businesses will be concerned about losing their skilled staff, they should focus on their staff retention strategies or even re-think their business models to become less reliant on staff i.e. outsourcing or automating roles.''
Across the Tasman, Drake Australia chief executive Christopher Quizeman said New Zealand was a hunting ground for talent.
The higher the value of an industry reliant upon labour, the more extreme the salary creep.
''Currently, in some sectors, we are seeing salaries increasing by 10 per cent - 30 per cent. Additional incentives in a market plagued by labour shortages include 'sign-on bonuses', the amounts can vary from a lump sum of tens of thousands of dollars to a large percentage of the first year's salary package.
''Whilst cash was important, for some, flexibility is more valued and we have found that flexibility and the option of working from home to be an attractive inducement for some workers.''
Ministry of Social Development Bay of Plenty regional commissioner Mike Bryant said it was committed to helping people find meaningful work, including those with complex needs.
''We work with local businesses and industry to support their recruitment needs, ultimately it is up to those businesses to decide what requirements they have for their employees.
''There are a number of businesses across different sectors that work with people who have barriers to employment such as criminal records and addictions that they have been able to now overcome resulting in better opportunities for them and their families.
''People's pasts are not a barrier to future employment and we encourage anyone to come and talk to us about how we can help them.''