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Construction worker wages flat in Alberta

Construction worker wages flat in Alberta

Posted on: 8/28/2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

Over the last decade, unionized construction workers in Alberta enjoyed wage increases well above the national average. But in recent years, the recession has taken a toll on workers’ paycheques in the province. Wage increases have been almost zero in the trades.

The graph below shows an index of wages earned by unionized construction workers in Edmonton, Calgary and Canada over the last 10 years. Setting wages in 2007 equal to 100, the index for construction workers in Canada was at 126.8 last month—meaning that wages are roughly 27 per cent higher now than they were a decade ago.

But the wage index for construction workers is currently at 133.2 in Calgary, and 134.8 in Edmonton, meaning that wages have increased in these cities by about 33 and 35 per cent, respectively. The chart lines show how much more rapidly construction wages have risen in Alberta compared to the national average.

The index is a composite of worker wages in unionized construction jobs, including mechanical and electrical trades, carpenters, cement finishers, plumbers, sheet metal workers, bricklayers, roofers and heavy equipment operators.

Still, the recent recession in Alberta has no doubt affected wage rates. Since the summer of 2014—roughly about the time the oil price collapse started to impact the provincial economy—construction wages in Edmonton and Calgary have grown by a mere 1.2 per cent. At the same time, they increased 3.2 per cent nationally.

Construction union wages rate index, graph

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