Average hourly wage in province approaches Canadian average

Daniel MacEachern
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Memorial University economist Wade Locke says continued labour pressures will push Newfoundland and Labrador's average hourly wage until it has surpassed the Canadian average and is comparable to Alberta's.- Photo by Dan MacEachern/The Telegram

Newfoundland and Labrador's average hourly wage will soon surpass the Canadian average, says a Memorial University economist.

Speaking to the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council conference on the province's looming labour shortage, Wade Locke said the province's average hourly wage has quickly closed the gap with the national average.

"There's been a huge change in people's incomes since about 2005, 2006," he said, attributing the increase to growth in the oil industry as well as the public sector. "Things are happening, and they're going to happen more in the future."

Five years ago, the province's average hourly wage was 80.9 per cent of the Canadian average. By last month, workers in Newfoundland and Labrador were paid an average of $22.72 an hour, 98.5 per cent of the $23.06 national average.

"That's going to get a lot worse," he said. "I don't know if 'worse' is the right word, but it's going to get different. I'm expecting to see that this number will start to go up even faster than you're seeing now." Locke added he expects wages in Newfoundland and Labrador to continue rising until they're competitive with Alberta's.

The reason, said Locke, is the province's competition with major projects in other provinces - including projects that weren't factored into the government's forecast earlier this year that there will be 77,000 job vacancies in Newfoundland and Labrador by 2010. Many of those job openings will be due to retirements in an aging workforce, but higher wages may see workers postpone their retirements.

"The problem is that these wage inflations will be driven by the fact that we have to compete with Alberta ... which is expecting to double or triple oilsands production," he said. Projects will be competing for labour in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and - with the recent announcement of a $25-billion contract for Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax - with Nova Scotia.

"While we might get a chance to supply them with services ... they will suck labour out of this place as well. It's the same kind of labour," he said.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Employers, Irving Shipbuilding

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, British Columbia Saskatchewan Halifax Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Dee
    November 21, 2011 - 09:30

    " Perhaps the writer of this article instead of using "average" wages should actually compare wages to other parts of Canada. " Agreed! Newfoundlander's are paid a minimal amount of what other Canadians are paid for the same trade, same job. The cost of housing in St. John's right now is comparable to cities like Toronto or Owatta, and the average job stills pays only 10.50/hour. It's litterally enough money to starve. A lot of the students I went to school with no longer live here because they are paid more in other provinces, and pay less for rent!

  • Ise Dabye
    November 20, 2011 - 22:56

    what a crock....lololol...take the government employees wages out of the picture in nl (about 65% of the so called "workforce") and youll get a province that has wages that attract the workers that cant find employment anywhere else...been there ..been a part of it...experienced it firsthand for a few short years...until i did my own job research and found out what the rest of canada REALLY pay...presently make over 3 times what i made in nl ...working less hours and in FARRRRRRRRR better conditions and worker morale atmosphere...getting $13.25/hr. in nl for THE biggest employer in atlantic canada hardly equates to making a "comparable wage" of $42.00/hr. in Alberta...what a joke this article is indeed!!!!!!

  • Christopher Chafe
    November 17, 2011 - 17:11

    Perhaps the writer of this article instead of using "average" wages should actually compare wages to other parts of Canada. While the "average" wage may be 98.5 percent of the National Level, a vast majority of trades out there that we have a major shortage in are far from "par" with Canada, in fact there are "trades" in Alberta that are 3 times the wage paid here in NL.

  • David
    November 17, 2011 - 15:41

    Let's see.....why should Newfoundland's average wage be in any way comparable, or ever compared to, Alberta's? They have a highly productive workforce that "gets" working in a largely non-unionized, competitive, pay-for-performance environment. Why on Earth would anyone think that union entitled, 'I'm a sucker to do any more than the minimum to keep my job' Newfoundland workers might come anywhere NEAR Alberta levels of pay?!? It is assinine.

  • Daniel M.
    November 17, 2011 - 14:59

    Hi, I wrote the story. The average hourly wage in Alberta as of last month was $25.79, far from double Newfoundland and Labrador's rate — that figure should have been included in the story. And yes, rising wages are a problem for employers. But don't forget that employers include all taxpayers, who pay the salaries of public servants, whose wages are also going up. Rising wages will also get reflected in higher service costs everywhere, as garages, for example, raise wages to retain their mechanics and pass on the increase to the customer in higher labour charges.

  • John Carrick Greene
    November 17, 2011 - 10:52

    I'd like to comment but first I want to know if Mr. Locke was quoted correctly. The Telegram said that Locke said that wages were going up, and that they would get "worse", meaning that they would continue to go up. And that's worse? I would have thought that instead of "worse it would be ""better"? If in fact he was quoted correctly, I'd like to ask before saying anything else: what does "worse"mean in his remarks? For whom is it "worse"?

    • Trevor
      November 17, 2011 - 14:14

      "Speaking to the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council conference " Upward wage pressure is "worse" for employers.

  • Brad
    November 17, 2011 - 10:40

    I call B.S. on this one, as Alberta wages are more than double Newfoundland's wages now. It is only because we have such a small population that it only takes a small number of high paying jobs to skew the numbers. If the wages are comp0arable to Canada how come our population remains stagnant? There is still a huge unemployment rate and the taxes you get sucked out of your cheque here are criminal. Alot has to change before they start attracting people from Alberta, just ask Vale how easy it is.

    • Brett
      November 18, 2011 - 10:56

      Brad, minimum wage has moved over the last 8 years from $6/hr to $10/hr. Unemployment has dropped significantly as well (in Avalon - which also houses 50% of the provinces population). The population remains stagnant because NL is a small place, and doesn't make sense for people from away to come here to live. It is still hard to make a living opening a restaurant/clothing store etc... There is a very limited market (small population). Most of the wealth is coming from big projects (oil) or mining, etc. Everything else is a spin off. Ending the EI stuff for seasonal workers would be a big help. Also cracking down on cash businesses would be a boon too because there seems to be a large grey market for labour.

  • roy
    November 17, 2011 - 08:16

    Its nice to see that the average wage is near the national average but you have to look at those left behind, the partime worker, those on Old Age pension, those on govt pension who haven't seen an increase on their pensions in 20years some of whom are receiving less take home than they did before reaching the age of 65 because of the CLAW Back.. With the higher wage everything has increased, property tax has doubled in the past 15- 20 years Heating oil has more than doubled, Food a necessity of life has increased. The high paying jobs are union jobs whose members have foregotten everyone but themselves. The union leaders in their quest for more money have thrown their former members to the wolves. Some of those whose members had worked for the Prov. Govt are against an increase in pensions and some don't even had a rep. on the pensioners coalition. Their attitude is me first fill my pockets, forget those who paid union dues a lifetime. forget them because they are not paying union dues now and are not filling my pockets. When those on or below the poverty line go to get groceries they pay the same price for a tin of milk as those earning $20 to $50 per hr.