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Alberta’s gender wage gap highest in Canada

Employment statistics recently released by Stats Canada showed that Alberta men made nearly $6 more an hour than women in November 2021.

With the release of the November 2021 Labour Force Survey a few weeks ago by Statistics Canada, I was recently intrigued by worker wages. After doing some digging, I found this monthly dataset of worker wages going back to 1997.

After playing with the variables a bit, I discovered that female workers generally make less than male workers in Canada. In fact, as of last month, female workers were making $3.55 an hour less than male workers, in general.

And that’s the case across nearly every industry, except one—female workers made $2.74 more an hour than male workers in the utilities sector.

The largest discrepancy is in the professional, scientific & technical services sector, where male workers made nearly $9 an hour more last month than their female workers.

M, 15+F, 15+Diff.
Professional, scientific & technical services$42.37$33.44$8.93
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental & leasing$39.27$32.65$6.62
Construction$32.99$27.95$5.04
Manufacturing$30.91$25.98$4.93
Other services (except public administration)$28.93$24.37$4.56
Public administration$41.73$37.56$4.17
Wholesale & retail trade$24.72$21.07$3.65
Educational services$38.23$34.90$3.33
Information, culture & recreation$32.40$29.15$3.25
Agriculture$22.02$19.00$3.02
Transportation & warehousing$30.36$27.74$2.62
Business, building & other support services$23.97$22.78$1.19
Accommodation & food services$18.36$17.42$0.94
Health care & social assistance$30.25$29.41$0.84
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil & gas$43.65$43.24$0.41
Utilities$47.82$50.56-$2.74

Here’s how the overall wage discrepancy looks when broken down by age group and part-time and full-time work.

All FTPT
15–24$0.96$0.68-$0.30
25–54$3.71$3.21-$0.51
55+$5.33$5.43$0.85

I find it very interesting that among young workers (15–24) and part-time workers, there is more wage parity between males and females, with the discrepancy being less than a $1.

I also find it interesting that the biggest discrepancies are among the 55+ age group, with older men making over $5 an hour more than women in the same age group, when working full time.

Have things improved while the Trudeau government have been in power?

Here’s the average wage discrepancy for 2021:

All FTPT
15–24$1.01$0.71-$0.03
25–54$3.77$3.33-$0.12
55+$4.76$4.55$0.90

And here it is for 2015, the final year of the Harper government:

All FTPT
15–24$1.26$1.37-$0.14
25–54$4.06$3.68-$0.45
55+$4.49$4.04$1.62

While the Liberals have been in office, the wage discrepancy has shrunk in all areas, except for one: full-time workers 55 years old and older. Men working full-time in that age range are making over 50¢ an hour more than their women peers than they were at the end of the Conservative’s last term.

What about Alberta?

In November 2021, male workers 15 years old and over made $35.83 an hours. That was $5.66 an hour more than female workers and includes both full-time and part-time workers.

Here’s how the wage discrepancy breaks down by age group and type of work for Alberta workers.

All FTPT
15–24$2.49$2.64-$0.43
25–54$5.79$4.96-$1.74
55+$6.91$7.58-$0.16

The wage discrepancy is significantly higher in Alberta than for the country over all, with men over 55 working full-time making over $7.50 an hour more than women. At least as of the past November.

And here are the same numbers for November 2018, the last November the NDP were in power:

All FTPT
15–24$0.96$1.43-$0.98
25–54$6.39$6.05$2.06
55+$8.31$7.37$6.19

Things were actually worse under the NDP, or at least they were in their final year. Men between the ages of 25 and 54 were making over $1 more than women when working full time than their same counterparts last month.

The discrepancy between older full-time workers was slightly better under the NDP, but older men were still making over $7 an hour more than older women. Plus older part-time men made $6.19 more than older women under the NDP, compared to now, where older women make slightly more (16¢) than men.

Also, whereas women between 25 and 54 working part time now make nearly $2 more than men in the same age group, it was the other way around under the NDP, with men in that group making over $2 an hour more.

Now let’s compare Alberta to the other provinces.

Clearly, Alberta had the largest gender wage gap of all the provinces last month. The next largest was Ontario, but even then, Alberta’s wage gap was still $1.82 higher than Ontario’s.

But is it really fair to compare wages in a single month? What if that was one-off month?

Here is the gender wage gap when averaging the discrepancy for all months in 2021.

What we see is that while the gender wage gap isn’t as high in Alberta any more, it’s still the highest of all the Canadian provinces, at nearly $5 an hour.

And here is the average monthly wage gap for each province from 2011, 10 years ago.

Even 10 years ago, Alberta’s gender wage gap was the highest in Canada.

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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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