B.C. wages on the rise in most sectors: report

Labour shortages and record-low unemployment levels have driven up the hourly wage rate in some sectors of the province, says a new report from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia.

Labour shortagesand record-low unemployment levels have driven up the hourly wage rate in some sectorsof the province, says a new report from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia.

Economic IndicatorsB.C.ABONCAN
Real wage rate$21.73$23.15$22.29$21.60
Unemployment rate4.8%3.4%6.3%6.3%
Educational Attainment61.0%60.7%65.2%63.9%
Job creation65,00086,30095,000314,600
Source: Chartered Accountants of B.C.,2006 Figures

B.C.’s real hourly wage rate increased to $21.73 in 2006, a rise of 1.8 per cent from the year before. The rate exceeded the national average of $21.60, or a 0.8 per cent increase, the report says.

Thepercentage of the B.C. workforce achieving post-secondary education reached 61 per cent in 2006; however, this level still lagged behind the national average of 63.9 per cent.

"Companies in many sectors and regions are experiencing shortages of workers with specific skills, and some cannot find workers at all," Richard Rees, the institute's chief executive officer, said in a press release Friday. "This is a major concern for employers across the province."

The report compares figures among B.C., Alberta, Ontario and the national average on economic indicators such as real wage rate, job creation, unemploymentand educational attainment. It says B.C. created 65,000 new jobs in 2006, the second-strongest job creationin the country.

The problem of labour shortages will likely get worse by 2010, as the number of workers leaving the workforce is expected to outnumber those entering it, it says.

"B.C.'s strong economy is creating jobs faster than we can find workers, and this is now having the predictable effect of pushing up wages," Rees said.

However, the wage boost hasn't touched every sector of the economy, said, Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair.

"Really, where the huge increases are, are on the top end," Sinclair told CBC News Friday night. "If you look at the CEOs … their pay is going up dramatically. My experience is that ordinary folks are not feeling much like they're sharing in this boom we're feeling."

The province's retail industry is expecting increases, said Mark Startup, chief executive officer of Retail B.C., the provincial association of retailers.

"If we've seen a rise in the average rate for all British Columbians on an hourly rate, I'm quite certain we'll see an increase in the average for the retail sector," Startup said Friday.