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Lowest income earners gradually gain ground

Lowest income earners gradually gain ground

Posted on: 1/31/2019 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

Average weekly earnings increased by 6.6 per cent for employees in all industries in Alberta between November 2012 and November 2018. But, among all the improvements, it was workers in the lowest paying sectors who saw the greatest pay cheque improvements.

The lowest wage earners—those in accommodation and food—saw their earnings rise by 13.1 per cent (purple line in the graph below). Earnings of employees in retail (orange line) increased by 13.0 per cent over the same period. Employees in the arts, recreation and entertainment (red line) saw weekly earnings rise by 12.7 per cent.

At the same time, total hours worked fell slightly for employees in low-paying sectors. Retail workers dropped from an average of 27.4 to 26.3 hours a week. Workers in accommodation and food dropped from 24.5 to 23.4 hours a week.

Total employment in low paying jobs also rose faster than the provincial average. The number of employees across Alberta rose 3.0 per cent (November 2012 to November 2018). At the same time, employees in accommodation and food rose 4.3 per cent and those in retail rose by 7.3 per cent. Total employment in arts, recreation and entertainment jumped a whopping 25 per cent.

Despite the better-than-average statistics, no one should envy those at the lowest end of the pay scale. After all, it’s not easy getting by on only $400 to $600 a week in a province where many costs are rising quickly.

Average weekly earnings in Alberta by sector, graph

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