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The wage gap between Alberta and Canada

The wage gap between Alberta and Canada

Posted on: 5/31/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

​​Albertans have long enjoyed higher pay cheques than Canadians in other provinces. But the recession narrowed that gap—and that smaller gap appears to be sticking around.

Before the oil price downturn, average weekly earnings in Alberta peaked at $1,174 per week (before taxes and deductions, but including overtime pay). That was 24 per cent higher than the Canadian average.

The gap between earnings in Alberta and Canada fell to 15 per cent as the recession pushed wages lower in the province. Wages in both jurisdictions are rising again, but the size of the gap has remained consistent at around 15 per cent.

While cold comfort to Albertans who are accustomed to earning fatter pay cheques, the drop in earnings over the recession is good news—at least from an economic perspective. Part of the reason why Alberta had difficulty attracting new businesses, especially those that could help diversify our economy, was because wages were out of proportion to the rest of the country. Why would a tech company, for example, set up shop in Alberta when wages in British Columbia were 25 per cent lower?

Wages are rising again in Alberta but at a more moderate pace. In March of this year, average weekly earnings across the province clocked in at $1,149—the highest in the country, but still 2.2 per cent lower than the pre-recession peak. The lower earnings no doubt present a challenge for workers trying to make ends meet. But they should also help our province attract new businesses in new sectors.

Average weekly earnings, graph​​

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