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Earnings in the last decade

  • By René Morissette


  • Between 1997 and 2007, average real earnings in the private sector rose a solid 15% in Alberta, compared with 5% to 6% in Quebec and Ontario and 3% in British Columbia. In Ontario and Quebec, average real earnings in manufacturing did not fall despite sharp employment decreases since 2004.

  • Between 1997 and 2007, the percentage of jobs paying less than $10.00 per hour (in 2002 dollars) fell markedly in all provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and British Columbia. In manufacturing, the proportion of low-paying jobs dropped in all regions except Ontario and British Columbia.

  • Of all private-sector employees, managers saw the greatest improvement in their pay rates since the late 1990s. Their average earnings grew 20% between 1997/1998 and 2006/2007, four times the rate observed for other private-sector employees. In contrast, blue-collar workers in manufacturing, clerical employees, and salespersons in retail trade (three groups that, collectively, accounted for 26% of private-sector employment in 2006/2007) saw virtually no wage growth.

  • The sharp growth for managers had a substantial impact on the upper end of the earnings distribution. Between 1997/1998 and 2006/2007, average hourly earnings grew 12% for the top 5% of private-sector employees, compared with 4% for their counterparts in the middle of the distribution. The more rapid increase for managers accounted for at least one-third of this 8 percentage-point difference.

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