MRO Magazine

Weekly payroll earnings crept down in August


November 3, 2015
By Bill Roebuck

Ottawa – Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $947 in August 2015, down 0.7% from the previous month. Compared with 12 months earlier, weekly earnings increased by 0.8%. The figures are compiled by Statistics Canada.

The increase in weekly earnings compared with August 2014 reflected a number of factors, including wage growth, changes in the composition of employment by industry, occupation, and level of job experience, as well as average hours worked per week.

Non-farm payroll employees worked an average of 32.8 hours per week in August, down from 33.1 hours in July and also down from the August 2014 average of 33.0 hours.

Average weekly earnings by sector


In the 12 months to August, average weekly earnings growth outpaced the national average in 5 of the 10 largest industrial sectors, led by wholesale trade and educational services. At the same time, earnings declined in construction as well as accommodation and food services, and were little changed in manufacturing, retail trade as well as professional, scientific and technical services.

On a year-over-year basis, earnings in wholesale trade increased 7.3% to $1,165, partly due to the fact that earnings in this sector were at a relatively low point in August 2014. Growth was widespread, with increases in the machinery, equipment and supplies wholesalers subsector contributing the most to the rise in average earnings.

Earnings in educational services were up 4.5% to $1,042 compared with August 2014. Most of this growth was in elementary and secondary schools as well as universities.

In health care and social assistance, average weekly earnings rose 3.4% to $868. The increase was mainly driven by earnings and employment growth in two of the highest earning industries in the sector: offices of physicians and general medical and surgical hospitals.

In construction, earnings fell 1.4% to $1,205 in the 12 months to August. The declines were spread across several industries, most notably in utility system construction, which is the highest earning industry in the sector.

Average weekly earnings in accommodation and food services were down 2.7% to $364, mostly the result of declines in full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places. Prior to the decline in August, earnings in this sector had trended up throughout the spring and summer.

Among the smaller industrial sectors, earnings in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector fell 9.5% to $1,905 in the 12 months to August. Declines in this sector pulled down the national average.

Average weekly earnings by province

Year over year, average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees increased in five provinces in August. Over the same period, earnings declined in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while they were virtually unchanged in Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and British Columbia.

Average weekly earnings in New Brunswick increased 2.7% to $854 in the 12 months to August. Earnings growth was driven by construction, transportation and warehousing as well as educational services. Most of the year-over-year growth occurred prior to April.

Compared with August 2014, earnings in Nova Scotia were up 2.3% to $841. Earnings growth was led by educational services, administrative and support services as well as construction.

In Ontario, average weekly earnings increased 2.1% to $962. Gains were spread across most industries, led by wholesale trade as well as information and cultural industries.

Earnings in Alberta declined 2.6% to $1,129 in the 12 months to August; the declines were spread across several industries. Earnings and employment decreases in two high-earning industries had the greatest contribution: mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction as well as construction. The average hours worked per week in Alberta also declined over the period, falling 2.0% to 34.2.

Non-farm payroll employment by sector

The number of non-farm payroll jobs declined by 58,600 in August, after little change in July. Declines in August were widespread, with the biggest losses in educational services, transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, wholesale trade as well as retail trade. Provincially, the largest declines were in Alberta and Ontario.

The employment decline in August lowered the year-over-year growth rate to 0.3% (+52,700). In the 12 months to August, the rate of employment growth was highest in arts, entertainment and recreation (+4.5%), accommodation and food services (+2.1%) as well as health care and social assistance (+1.4%). At the same time, employment declined in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (-11.1%).