the rennie landscape - Q3 2019


WAGES RISE, WORKERS HIGH-FIVE Tight labour market conditions driven by growing employer needs are finally helping to fill the piggy banks of BC’s workforce.

During the past few years of the extended post-Great Recession economic expansion, slow wage growth has perplexed many economists, policymakers, and indeed workers themselves. The specific question varies depending on who’s asking, but the gist is the same: with a low and declining unemployment rate, and Canadian employers in virtually every sector seemingly exasperated by the lack of available labour, how has the pace of employee earnings not picked up? The answer for now is: it has (though it took a while). The Canadian economy has now registered four consecutive months of increases in the year-over-year growth in full-time median weekly wages, rising from no change in February 2019 to 4.0% most recently in July—the fastest rate of growth in a year and a half.

In comparison, BC most recently clocked a 6.0% year-over-year increase in wages—the fastest pace of growth here since February 2011, when wages rose by 6.3% on a year- over-year basis. It’s no secret that the cost of living in British Columbia, and in particular in its metro areas, is high, so it’s encouraging to see the median weekly full-time wage rate in BC reach $1,038—on par with that of Ontario and 3.8% higher than in Canada as a whole. Continued wage growth will be a key ingredient of the West Coast's continued economic prosperity, with the latest data indicating we're trending in the right direction.


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