Under UCP, Alberta wage growth worst in Canada

Inflation has increased at 6 times the rate that the average hourly wage in Alberta has.

The federal government released their July 2022 job numbers earlier this month. One of the datasets included in this update was worker wages, and I thought I’d check to see how Alberta workers are doing.

Well, the news isn’t great.

Wages for full-time workers were down 72¢ last month, from $34.74 an hour in June. This marks 3 months in a row that the average hourly wage for full-time workers as decreased. As well, this is the lowest average full-time hourly wages have been since July 2021.

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When we compare last month’s average full-time hourly wages with April 2019, the month the UCP were elected, we see that wages have seen a net increase, rising from $33.21 the month of the election to $34.02 just last month.

That’s an increase of 81¢ an hour, or 2.44%.

Meanwhile, the consumer price index in Alberta rose from 143.7 in April 2019 to 161.4 in June 2022. In other words, inflation rose by 12.32%.

So, while the UCP have been in power, inflation has increased at roughly 6 times the rate that wages for full-time workers have.

Part-time wages also decreased, from $23.02 an hour in June 2022 to $21.95 in just last month. That’s a drop of more than $1 an hour and it sits at the lowest level since June 2021.

Not only that, but part-time wages, unlike full-time wages, have actually dropped while the UCP have been in power. They started out at $22.74 an hour, on average, in April 2019 but have since dropped to $21.95 last month. That’s a loss of 79¢ an hour, roughly the same amount that full-time wages increased by during the same period.

The average wage for both full-time and part-time jobs decreased to $32.22 an hour last month from $32.83 in June, the third month in a row to see wage declines.

When you put combine the two, the average overall wage has increased by 78¢, $31.44 in April 2019 to $32.22 in July 2022, an increase of 2.48%. Remember, inflation increased by over 12% during the same period.

By industry, wages increased in only 4 of the 16 reported sectors. However, the following sectors saw wage decreases:

For., fishing, mining, quarrying, oil & gas$47.38$44.80-$2.58
Information, culture and recreation$29.64$28.07-$1.57
Wholesale and retail trade$25.09$24.11-$0.98
Transportation and warehousing$31.38$30.54-$0.84
Health care and social assistance$32.97$32.20-$0.77
Accommodation and food services$19.35$18.70-$0.65
Business, building, other support serv$25.45$24.81-$0.64
Public administration$43.55$42.94-$0.61
Fin., ins., real estate, rental & leasing$37.35$36.99-$0.36

When we compare wage growth of all the provinces over the last year, Alberta was one of 5 provinces to see wage losses, but we saw the largest loss, by far, roughly 3 times as large as the losses felt by Ontario, Saskatchewan, and PEI workers.


And watch happens when we compare how each province has performed since the UCP were elected.

Apr 2019Jul 2022Change

While it’s true that Alberta’s average overall hourly wage increased over the last 3 years or so, it was the smallest increase of all the provinces. And Saskatchewan, with the second smallest increase, saw an increase that was 2.3 times larger than Alberta’s.

BC came in first place, with wages going up by $4.73 an hour. Alberta is still in first place for highest wage, but with BC going from being $4.43 an hour behind Alberta to just 48¢ an hour behind, it may not be much longer until Alberta is unseated from that, too.

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By Kim Siever

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

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