P.E.I. job numbers growing, but wages stubbornly low

Wages on P.E.I. are down over the last year as a percentage of the Canadian average, despite a number of strong economic indicators.

More low-wage jobs being created

The creation of more jobs in retail has tended to drag the average weekly wage down. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Wages on P.E.I. are down over the last year as a percentage of the Canadian average, despite a number of strong economic indicators.

While the number of jobs is up and the unemployment rate is down, wage earners on the Island — already with the lowest pay in the country — have continued to lose ground against wage earners in the rest of Canada.

According to the latest report from Statistics Canada, last October the average Island weekly wage was $823.16. While wages rose across the country, on P.E.I. they fell to $818.13.

Fred Bergman, senior policy analyst with the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, said the drop in wages is partly about lower pay in some sectors, and also the kinds of jobs that are being created.

A strong tourism year created jobs in retail — already the province's largest employment sector — and pay in that sector is down.

"Because trade represents a large share of total employment, its wage is going to have a heavy impact," said Bergman.

It's not all bad news, says Fred Bergman. (APEC)

Strong tourism also created jobs in food services and accommodation.

"They would tend to have lower average wages, and so that's where a lot of your employment growth is at, that's not going to add as much to your average weekly wages," said Bergman.

But it is not all bad news in the report, said Bergman. Wages are up in health care, social assistance and construction. That, combined with the increase in the amount of waged work, means the overall payroll is up about three per cent this year.

A spokesperson said the government sees the overall growth in income, along with an uptick in October, as a positive trend.

About the Author

Kevin Yarr

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.