Calgary

Average weekly earnings fall 1.7% in Alberta

Alberta saw the largest drop in average weekly earnings in the first half of the year but workers in this province continue to earn the most in the country, according to a report released Thursday by Statistics Canada.

Albertans still earn the most in the country, averaging $1,118 a week

Average weekly earnings in Alberta fell 1.7% to $1,118 in the first half of 2016. (CBC)

Alberta once again saw the biggest drop in average weekly earnings in the month of September compared to the year before, but workers in this province continue to earn the most in the country, according to a report released Thursday by Statistics Canada.

Average weekly earnings in Alberta dropped 1.7 per cent to $1,118 in September compared to the previous year. Workers in Newfoundland and Labrador saw a 0.7 per cent drop in average weekly earnings while in Saskatchewan they fell 0.1 per cent.

All other provinces saw earnings growth of 0.9 per cent (Ontario) to 3.3 per cent (Prince Edward Island).

The drop is the result of low oil prices over the last two years, says the report, and is being seen most in the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction and professional, scientific and technical services sectors.

But it doesn't mean Alberta workers are worse off than their counterparts in other provinces, said University of Calgary economics professor Trevor Tombe.

"These numbers don't mean the typical Albertan saw earnings decrease," he said.

"This means a lot of the job losses we've seen have been very heavily concentrated in oil and gas and that's a pretty high-earning sector. Overall, we earn one-hundred and eighty-three dollars, on average, above the rest of the country per week. Alberta still is the strongest economy in the country by many measures." 

Tombe said he figures Alberta has now seen the worst of the ongoing recession and things should start to improve. But a real rebound could take years rather than months, he cautioned.

"It may have ended already," he said.

"We're at the point where we may have reached the bottom. Most of the forecasts put out there by the Bank of Canada, by ATB, by the Conference Board, all point to right now or the summer being the bottom of our recession. What we see today in terms of employment was flat, so it will take some months to see how this shakes out."

Nationally, the latest Stats Can report showed average weekly earnings remained relatively unchanged from last year, rising 0.4 per cent to $957.

Retail trade was the lone sector that saw a notable increase in average weekly earnings, rising 3.4 per cent to $565.

Provincial changes in average weekly earnings

  • Canada +0.4% - $957
  • Prince Edward Island +3.3% - $832
  • New Brunswick +2.3% - $876
  • Quebec +1.8% - $887
  • Nova Scotia +1.8% - $852
  • Manitoba +1.4% - $892
  • B.C. +1% - $921
  • Ontario +0.9% - $972
  • Saskatchewan - 0.1% - $981
  • Newfoundland and Labrador - 0.7% - $999
  • Alberta -1.7% - $1,118