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AB hourly workers making 15¢/hr more than in 2020

On average, wages for all Alberta workers are up by more than $35 a week. But most of that increase is with salaried workers.

Yesterday, Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, tweeted out that the average weekly earnings in Alberta increased by $40 compared to a week ago.

So, I thought I’d dig into the numbers.

His tweet references data from the Alberta Economics Dashboard, which itself cites Statistics Canada table 14-10-0203-01, “Average weekly earnings by industry”.

The first thing I’m going to point out is that this data hasn’t been adjusted for seasonality. I’ll address that in just a bit.

Anyhow, if we compare this data for Alberta, we see that in November 2021 (the most recent data available) the average wage in Alberta was $1,241.94 per week, which is up $38.22 from November 2020, when it was $1,203.72 a week.

That’s a 3.18% increase.

So, I guess he’s kind of right about the $40 figure, depending on how you round up your numbers.

Keep in mind, however, that this increase includes overtime pay.

When we exclude overtime pay, weekly wages increase from $1,159.37 in November 2020 to $1,190.61 a year later. That’s an increase of $31.24, or 2.69%.

If we break that down by the hour, that’s about an additional 78¢ an hour.

Here are the 5 industries with the largest weekly wage increases in dollar figures, including overtime pay.

Nov 2020Nov 2021Change
Forestry, logging and support$1,269.46$1,585.03$315.57
Mining, quarrying, oil & gas extraction$2,245.70$2,489.48$243.78
Utilities$2,000.08$2,178.55$178.47
Construction$1,532.20$1,660.35$128.15
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services$960.35$1,052.95$92.60

They’re also the 5 industries with the large percentage increase over the last year, albeit in a different order.

Nov 2020Nov 2021Change
Forestry, logging and support$1,269.46$1,585.0324.86%
Mining, quarrying, oil & gas extraction$2,245.70$2,489.4810.86%
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services$960.35$1,052.959.64%
Utilities$2,000.08$2,178.558.92%
Construction$1,532.20$1,660.358.36%

Here are the 5 industries with the largest weekly wage increases in dollar figures, excluding overtime pay.

Nov 2020Nov 2021Change
Forestry, logging and support$1,140.85$1,469.88$329.03
Mining, quarrying, oil & gas extraction$2,104.84$2,298.75$193.91
Utilities$1,868.22$2,009.09$140.87
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services$929.17$1,016.12$86.95
Construction$1,397.23$1,477.45$80.22

Oh, it’s the same industries. And here they are with their percentage-based increases.

Nov 2020Nov 2021Change
Forestry, logging and support$1,140.85$1,469.8828.84%
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services$929.17$1,016.129.36%
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction$2,104.84$2,298.759.21%
Utilities$1,868.22$2,009.097.54%
Construction$1,397.23$1,477.455.74%

And now the 5 industries that saw the lowest increases and the highest decreases. First, here they are including overtime wages.

Nov 2020Nov 2021Change% change
Management of companies and enterprises$1,929.95$1,829.00-$100.95-5.23%
Wholesale trade$1,489.10$1,449.88-$39.22-2.63%
Health care and social assistance$1,036.86$1,006.66-$30.20-2.91%
Finance and insurance$1,491.28$1,491.00-$0.28-0.02%
Other services (except public administration)$1,017.21$1,022.78$5.570.55%

And here they are without overtime wages.

Nov 2020Nov 2021Change% change
Wholesale trade$1,446.27$1,405.43-$40.84-2.82%
Health care and social assistance$1,014.04$982.11-$31.93-3.15%
Management of companies and enterprises$1,810.33$1,795.63-$14.70-0.81%
Finance and insurance$1,484.18$1,480.33-$3.85-0.26%
Arts, entertainment and recreation$695.44$704.43$8.991.29%

Now, luckily, when Statistics Canada updated Table 14-10-0203-01 last week, they also updated Table:14-10-0222-01, which includes seasonally adjusted data. Unfortunately, it’s not broken down by industry.

Even so, when we look at seasonally adjusted data, we find that in November 2020, weekly wages averaged $1,195.59. A year later, they averaged $1,231.81. That’s an increase of $36.22 a week, or about 3.03%.

Here’s how it breaks down for salaried and hourly workers.

Nov 2020Nov 2021Change% change
Hourly$922.95$925.13$2.180.24%
Salaried$1,554.45$1,638.48$84.035.41%

It seems like most of that increase Kenney was talking about went to salaried employees. Hourly employees are making, on average, a little more than 2 bucks more a week than they were a year ago.

2 bucks a week.

Statistics Canada also provides average hourly earnings for the same two groups. Here’s how those break down.

Nov 2020Nov 2021Change% change
Hourly$28.89$29.04$0.150.52%
Salaried$42.09$44.16$2.074.92%

So, while salaried workers are making $2.07 an hour more than they were at the end of 2020, hourly workers are making only 15¢ an hour more, an increase of only about half a percent.

Meanwhile, inflation in Alberta in November 2021 was 4.3%.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

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