Average wages across the furniture sector have gone up by 4.1% since 2016, according to the latest British Furniture Manufacturers' (BFM) wages survey of production occupations.
It brings the average hourly rate across skilled and unskilled workers to £10, an all-time high possibly reflected by the 75% of companies which reported difficulty recruiting caused by a skills shortage. 58% stated this was having the effect of forcing up wages for certain occupations.
The BFM's annual report revealed that while there was an increase countrywide, the average hourly wage rose more steeply in the north - up 5% on last year's figures. It covers nearly 4,300 employees in 22 production occupations, with a large proportion of the employees working on a payment by results basis.
Mike Dimond, BFM director of employment and membership affairs, says: "Our survey has revealed a number of interesting results, with the industry skills shortage being a driving force for wage increases.
"Going forward, a number of factors look set to impact on 2018 wages, foremost among them being pension auto-enrolment (79% of those surveyed cited this), the apprenticeship levy (42%)*, raw material costs (88%) and the National Living Wage."
Nearly two thirds of the 46 business that took part in the survey had budgeted for a wage increase in 2018. 75% said that the National Living Wage was increasing wage costs, while two thirds said it was reducing differentials.
The survey, which was conducted in December 2017, covered nearly 4300 employees in 22 production occupations including: foremen, wood machinist - manual, wood machinist - CNC, polisher, frame maker, upholsterer, assemblers, cabinet maker, sewer, cutter, cushion filler, chair maker, labourer, packer, HGV driver, non-HGV driver, stores/warehouse, maintenance, quality controller, CAD operator, mattress maker and product development.