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Alberta wage growth among the worst since 2019

Since July 2019, the month when the UCP implemented their so-called Job Creation Tax Cut, Alberta was one of only 2 provinces that saw its average wage increase by less than $100 a week.

Statistics Canada recently released data on average weekly wages for July 2022. It seemed like a good opportunity to see how Alberta workers fared compared to workers in other provinces.

AB$1,247.09
ON$1,190.25
BC$1,162.06
NL$1,140.40
SK$1,140.16
QC$1,119.35
NB$1,068.49
MB$1,054.32
NS$1,021.88
PEI$980.01

In July 2022, the average weekly wage in Alberta was higher than what the average worker in other provinces saw. In fact, Alberta workers, on average, made $56.84 more per week than workers in Ontario, which was in second place.

Now, let’s look at how those wages have changed over time.

First, here’s how weekly wages changed between June and July of this year.

Jun 2022Jul 2022Change% change
PEI$962.49$980.01$17.521.79%
QC$1,105.66$1,119.35$13.691.22%
ON$1,186.55$1,190.25$3.700.31%
SK$1,138.59$1,140.16$1.570.14%
MB$1,055.09$1,054.32-$0.77-0.07%
NL$1,143.48$1,140.40-$3.08-0.27%
BC$1,166.65$1,162.06-$4.59-0.39%
AB$1,256.69$1,247.09-$9.60-0.77%
NB$1,082.69$1,068.49-$14.20-1.33%
NS$1,037.74$1,021.88-$15.86-1.55%

While Alberta workers did see the highest weekly wages in July 2022, on average, we saw the third largest decrease in wages, with the average worker being paid nearly $10 a week less than they were in June.

Five other provinces also saw wage decreases during that period, but only Nova Scotia ($15.86) and New Brunswick ($14.20) saw decreases that were larger than Alberta’s.

Prince Edward Island workers, on the other hand, saw average wages rise by over $17 a week, the largest increase in the country. The average increase across the country was $4.55 a week.

Here’s how each province performed over the previous year.

Jul 2021Jul 2022Change% change
QC$1,056.70$1,119.35$62.655.93%
NB$1,008.51$1,068.49$59.985.95%
NS$985.36$1,021.88$36.523.71%
NL$1,104.56$1,140.40$35.843.24%
MB$1,022.15$1,054.32$32.173.15%
SK$1,108.82$1,140.16$31.342.83%
ON$1,162.72$1,190.25$27.532.37%
BC$1,140.52$1,162.06$21.541.89%
PEI$962.62$980.01$17.391.81%
AB$1,233.71$1,247.09$13.381.08%

Alberta workers were a bit better off this summer than we were last year. At least we didn’t see a decrease. That being said, we saw the smallest increase in the country.

The average worker in Canada saw their weekly wage increase $32.63 between July 2021 and July 2022, which works out to be an additional 2.89%.

Alberta, on the other hand, went up only $13.38 a week for the average worker. In contrast, Québec, which was in first place, saw their average worker wages increase by $62.65. aweek.

And when we look at percentage increases, Alberta workers are still in last place, with wages increasing by 1.08%.

Things improve for Alberta when we look at the 2-year comparison.

Jul 2020Jul 2022Change% change
QC$1,049.90$1,119.35$69.456.61%
NS$953.04$1,021.88$68.847.22%
BC$1,093.72$1,162.06$68.346.25%
NB$1,006.24$1,068.49$62.256.19%
SK$1,081.56$1,140.16$58.605.42%
MB$1,004.08$1,054.32$50.245.00%
AB$1,208.04$1,247.09$39.053.23%
ON$1,153.17$1,190.25$37.083.22%
NL$1,116.84$1,140.40$23.562.11%
PEI$959.17$980.01$20.842.17%

Here we see that Alberta saw the 4th smallest increase, with workers there getting an extra $39.05 a week, on average. Only PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario saw larger decreases.

Alberta is also in 4th from the bottom in terms of percentage increase, as well.

Québec workers saw the largest increase to their average weekly wages during the same period, getting $69.45 more on their paycheques. That’s nearly double the increase that Alberta saw.

Finally, here’s a look at how much wages have changed since July 2019, the month when the UCP implemented their so-called Job Creation Tax Cut.

Jul 2019Jul 2022Change% change
BC$995.12$1,162.06$166.9416.78%
QC$963.05$1,119.35$156.3016.23%
ON$1,051.16$1,190.25$139.0913.23%
Canada$1,028.28$1,163.23$134.9513.12%
NB$940.87$1,068.49$127.6213.56%
NS$901.19$1,021.88$120.6913.39%
SK$1,035.40$1,140.16$104.7610.12%
MB$950.57$1,054.32$103.7510.91%
PEI$877.26$980.01$102.7511.71%
AB$1,158.49$1,247.09$88.607.65%
NL$1,057.67$1,140.40$82.737.82%

And what it looks like in a chart.

Now, Alberta drops again, but just to the second lowest spot, not the lowest.

Workers here saw their average weekly wages increase by $88.60, ahead of Newfoundland and Labrador, which saw an increase of $82.73 over the last 3 years.

BC saw the largest increase in average weekly wages for workers between July 2019 and July 2022, jumping by $166.94, nearly double the increase Alberta workers saw. The national average increased by $134.95 a week.

Since the UCP implemented the Job Creation Tax Cut, Alberta workers saw the second worst improvement in average weekly wages. Their increase of $88.60 put them among only two provinces with an increase under $100 a week.

BC workers topped the list, with an average increase of $166.94 a week, which is 88.4% higher than Alberta’s. Alberta workers saw an increase that was $46.35 less than the national average of $134.95.

If we calculate the average increase on all the provinces but Alberta, it comes to $122.74, which is $34.14 more than Alberta’s increase.

Also, keep in mind that inflation between July 2021 and July 2022 was 7.4%. That means that the wage increases over the last three years was barely enough to cover just the increase to the cost of living over just the last year.

It’s even worse when you consider that inflation rose 12.4% between July 2019 and July 2022.

Here’s how the average weekly wages increased over the last 3 years in Alberta when broken down by industry.

Jul 2019Jul 2022Change% change
Information & cultural industries$1,171.82$1,443.28$271.4623.17%
Mining, quarrying, & oil and gas extraction$2,192.11$2,434.55$242.4411.06%
Professional, scientific & technical services$1,505.45$1,665.46$160.0110.63%
Real estate & rental and leasing$1,220.53$1,346.14$125.6110.29%
Educational services$1,094.74$1,218.75$124.0111.33%
Wholesale trade$1,310.12$1,427.21$117.098.94%
Manufacturing$1,263.96$1,380.21$116.259.20%
Construction$1,445.32$1,542.12$96.806.70%
Transportation and warehousing$1,317.83$1,408.78$90.956.90%
Public administration$1,478.42$1,556.91$78.495.31%
Administrative & support, waste management & remediation services$976.92$1,039.50$62.586.41%
Retail trade$664.48$716.48$52.007.83%
Health care & social assistance$987.55$1,035.89$48.344.89%
Management of companies & enterprises$1,955.51$1,996.49$40.982.10%
Other services (except public administration)$980.87$1,018.21$37.343.81%
Accommodation & food services$475.48$493.66$18.183.82%
Finance & insurance$1,455.16$1,468.65$13.490.93%
Arts, entertainment & recreation$656.72$610.39-$46.33-7.05%
Utilities$2,168.73$2,118.19-$50.54-2.33%
Forestry, logging & support$1,336.91$1,274.08-$62.83-4.70%

The largest increase in weekly wages over the last 3 years went to those working in the “information & cultural industries” sector, followed by the oil and gas sector.

Only three sectors—Arts, entertainment & recreation; utilities; and forestry, logging and support—saw a decrease in average weekly wages since July 2019.

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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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