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Payroll employment, earnings and hours, August 2015

Released: 2015-10-29

Average weekly earnings


August 2015


(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $947 in August, down 0.7% from the previous month. Compared with 12 months earlier, weekly earnings increased by 0.8%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings and average weekly hours
Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings and average weekly hours

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.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings in the 10 largest sectors, August 2015
Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings in the 10 largest sectors, August 2015

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.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings by province, August 2015
Year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings by province, August 2015

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%).

  Note to readers

The Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) is produced by a combination of a census of payroll deductions, provided by the Canada Revenue Agency, and the Business Payrolls Survey, which collects data from a sample of 15,000 establishments. The key objective of SEPH is to provide a monthly portrait of the level of earnings, and the number of jobs and hours worked by detailed industry at the national, provincial and territorial level.

Estimates of average weekly earnings and hours worked are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling variability. This analysis focuses on differences between estimates that are statistically significant at the 68% confidence level. Payroll employment estimates are based on a census of administrative data and are not subject to sampling variability.

Statistics Canada also produces employment estimates from its Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS is a monthly household survey, the main objective of which is to divide the working-age population into three mutually exclusive groups: the employed (including the self-employed), unemployed and not in the labour force. This survey is the official source for the unemployment rate and collects data on the socio-demographic characteristics of all those in the labour market.

As a result of conceptual and methodological differences, estimates of changes from SEPH and LFS do differ from time to time. However, the trends in the data are quite similar.

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitate comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Non-farm payroll employment data are for all hourly and salaried employees, as well as the "other employees" category, which includes piece-rate and commission-only employees.

Average weekly hours data are for hourly and salaried employees only and exclude businesses that could not be classified to a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.

All earnings data include overtime pay and exclude businesses that could not be classified to a NAICS code. Earnings data are based on gross taxable payroll before source deductions. Average weekly earnings are derived by dividing total weekly earnings by the number of employees.

With each release, data for the current reference month are subject to revision. Data have been revised for the previous month. Users are encouraged to request and use the most up-to-date data for each month.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Updated CANSIM tables 281-8023, 281-8026, 281-8047 and 281-8063 will be available on November 13. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on payroll employment, earnings and hours for September will be released on November 26.


A summary table is available from the Browse by key resource module of our website. Under Summary tables, choose Subject then Labour.

Job Vacancy Statistics (survey number 5202) from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours for July are now available in CANSIM.

More information about the concepts and use of the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours is available online in the Guide to the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (Catalogue number72-203-G), from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Andrew Fields (613-951-3551;, Labour Statistics Division.

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