Issue 20-96: Average Weekly Earnings

May 28, 2020

Average weekly earnings of payroll employees in British Columbia (seasonally adjusted, current dollars) went up in March (+0.8%) compared to the previous month, to reach $1,033.65.

Compared to March 2019, average weekly earnings in British Columbia increased by 4.8%, ranking third among provinces. Growth was spread across most sectors, with the largest gains recorded in transportation and warehousing (+11.7%), and finance and insurance (+5.7%). Five sectors saw declines in average weekly earnings from a year ago, with management of companies and enterprises (-16.0%) registering the biggest drop.

Nationally, average weekly earnings grew by 0.6% compared to the previous month. Compared to March 2019, earnings climbed 3.7% to reach $1,053.00. The utilities (+10.7%), and finance and insurance (+7.1%) sectors saw the largest increases in March compared to the same month a year earlier.

Earnings across the country ranged from a high of $1,507.13 in the Northwest Territories to a low of $896.56 in Prince Edward Island. Alberta continued to have the highest average weekly earnings among provinces, at $1,173.70 in March.

All provinces saw increases in average weekly earnings compared to a year ago, most notably Quebec (+5.5%) and Prince Edward Island (+5.2%).

Note that average weekly earnings change due to several factors including wage growth, changes in occupation or job experience, changes in the average work week, and changes in the number of people employed in different industries.

Employment data shows that low-paid workers have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 economic shutdown. Over 8 in 10 Canadian payroll employees who lost their jobs were paid hourly and the number of hours worked fell to 29.5 hours, the lowest on record. Nevertheless, the larger employment declines among lower-paying jobs caused average weekly earnings to climb higher in the month.

Source: Statistics Canada