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The gap between the highest and lowest paid workers in Alberta Part I: Weekly earnings

The gap between the highest and lowest paid workers in Alberta Part I: Weekly earnings

Posted on: 10/29/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

​​A variety of different factors including years of experience, education levels, skill sets and the ability to do difficult or physical work means wages across occupations vary greatly.

The graph below shows how some of the highest paid employees (those in the oil and gas sector) and some of the lowest paid employees (those in the retail sector) compare to the provincial average. The red line shows average weekly earnings in oil and gas at $2,314 in August, roughly double the provincial average. The purple line shows earnings in retail jobs at $663 per week, about 57 per cent of the provincial average. With increases to the minimum wage in recent years, they have trended slightly higher.

The gap between the highest paid and the lowest paid occupations has changed over time. Ten years ago, oil and gas weekly earnings were roughly triple those in retail (i.e., higher by 200 per cent.) Over the economic boom leading up to 2014, the gap rose to nearly 300 per cent. But with the recession, wages in oil and gas have levelled off. Over the last four years, the difference between the highest and lowest paid employees has been relatively constant at around 250 per cent.

Of course, employees in retail tend to work more part-time hours than those in oil and gas. How do hourly wages (i.e., total weekly earnings divided by hours of work) compare? That will be the topic in tomorrow’s edition of The Owl.

Average weekly earnings, differences, graph​​

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