indicatorThe Owl

Average earnings slip as lower paid workers return

Because many of the jobs added in March were in sectors that tend to pay less than in other sectors, average weekly earnings in the province went from $1,238 to $1,208

By ATB Economics 28 May 2021 1 min read

Public health restrictions in Alberta were partially eased in March. As a result, employment in sectors such as retail, food services and recreation increased.

Data for March from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours* show the total number of seasonally adjusted payroll jobs in the province rose by 1.8 per cent compared to February.

In percentage terms, employment increased the most in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector (13.7 per cent or 2,764 positions).

In absolute terms, the largest increase in jobs was in the retail sector with 9,223 positions added (an increase of 4.0 per cent) followed by accommodation and food services at 5,913 jobs (5.0 per cent).

Employment levels in most sectors, however, remained below where they were in February 2020 before the pandemic with the total number of payroll jobs down by 33,654 (6.8 per cent).

Because many of the jobs added in March were in sectors that tend to pay less, average weekly earnings in the province went from $1,238 to $1,208—a drop of 2.4 per cent compared to the previous month.

At the same time, average earnings were 2.4 per cent higher than they were in February 2020.

While there has been some wage growth in, for example, the forestry sector, the higher average compared to before the pandemic is mostly due to the large number of relatively low paying jobs that remained in limbo in March.

*Statistics Canada’s Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours “provides an account of payroll employment—that is, the number of employees receiving pay or benefits during a given month—as well as earnings and hours worked.”

Answer to the previous trivia question: At $16.59 billion, Ontario edged out Saskatchewan ($16.56 billion) for the largest value of farm cash receipts in 2020. Alberta was third at $15.43 billion.

Today’s trivia question: Which sector has the highest average weekly earnings in both Alberta and Canada?

Average earnings in March 2021 were 2.4 per cent higher than they were in February 2020 before the pandemic

Average earnings in March 2021 were 2.4 per cent higher than they were in February 2020 before the pandemic


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