Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees increased 0.8% from July to $877.28 in August, following two months of small declines.
On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings rose 1.9%, the lowest growth rate since November 2009.
Year-over-year change in average weekly hours and average weekly earnings
The 1.9% year-over-year increase reflects a number of factors, such as wage growth and changes in the composition of employment by industry, by occupation and by level of job experience.
A decrease in average hours worked per week was also a factor in the 1.9% year-over-year growth in earnings in August. The average work week declined 0.3% from 33.0 hours in August 2010 to 32.9 hours in August 2011. Average hours fell in both the goods and services sectors.
Average weekly earnings are derived by dividing total weekly earnings by the number of employees.
Data on the education sector
Changes in payroll employment in education during the summer months can be affected by changes in payment schedules and school-year calendars. Month-to-month changes should therefore be interpreted with caution, and more attention given to long-term trends.
Average weekly hours increased 0.3% from July, contributing to the 0.8% increase in average weekly earnings in August.
Average weekly earnings up in every province
Average weekly earnings rose in every province in the 12 months to August, led by increases in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Alberta.
Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings by province, August 2010 to August 2011
On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings increased 4.7% to $875.07 in Newfoundland and Labrador. Earnings in this province have grown at a higher rate than the national average since December 2010.
Average weekly earnings in New Brunswick amounted to $792.01, up 4.5% from August 2010.
In Alberta, earnings increased 4.4% over the same period to $1,045.24. Earnings in Alberta remain the highest of all provinces (see "Provincial profile" section of this release).
The lowest growth rate occurred in Ontario, where the average weekly earnings of $894.17 in August have changed little since February 2011.
Average weekly earnings by industry
Year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings exceeded the national average of 1.9% in five of Canada's largest industrial sectors: educational services; wholesale trade; administrative and support services; construction; and retail trade. At the same time, earnings declined in accommodation and food services; health care and social assistance; and manufacturing.
Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings in the 10 largest sectors, August 2010 to August 2011
In wholesale trade, average weekly earnings rose 4.7% to $1,052.52. Year-over-year growth in earnings among the larger wholesaler-distributor industries has been highest for those in food, beverage, tobacco; miscellaneous; and personal household goods.
Non-farm payroll employment by sector
On a monthly basis, non-farm payroll employment increased by 4,800 in August. Year over year, employment was up 1.6% (+238,400).
Monthly payroll employment increased in health care and social assistance, accommodation and food services and retail trade in August, while declines occurred in public administration, construction and manufacturing. The monthly decline in public administration was driven by the end of temporary jobs associated with the census program.
In the 12 months to August, among the 10 largest sectors, there was above-average growth in the number of employees in professional, scientific and technical services; construction; wholesale trade; health care and social assistance; and accommodation and food services.
Provincial profile: Alberta
In August, non-farm payroll employment totalled nearly 1.8 million in Alberta, 12.2% of the national total. Between August 2010 and August 2011, payroll employment increased 4.5% (+78,800), the fastest growth rate of any province and nearly three times the national rate of 1.6%.
During the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009, payroll employment in Alberta declined at a much faster pace than the national average. Between August 2008 and August 2009, payroll employment in the province fell 5.1% compared with a 2.7% decline nationally.
However, from August 2009 to August 2011, employment levels more than recovered in Alberta, increasing 7.2% compared with the national average of 3.4%. Half of Alberta's increase has occurred since January 2011.
Payroll employment in Alberta, January 2008 to August 2011
In the 12 months to August, payroll job gains in Alberta were widespread in the goods and services sectors.
The largest gains in the goods sector were in utility system construction; support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction; and oil and gas extraction.
Among the service sectors, the largest gains were in architectural, engineering and related services; traveller accommodation; restaurants; wholesalers of machinery, equipment and supplies; services to buildings and dwellings; employment services; machinery and equipment repair and maintenance; and specialized freight trucking.
Alberta has recorded the highest average weekly earnings of all provinces since 2005, when it surpassed Ontario. In the 12 months to August 2011, average weekly earnings in Alberta increased 4.4% to $1,045.24, one of the largest growth rates provincially.
Among the larger sectors, the increase in earnings over this period was above average in administrative and support services; wholesale trade; transportation and warehousing; and construction.
Compared with other provinces, Alberta has a higher share of employees who work in the goods sector, particularly in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction; and construction. A larger proportion of Alberta employees also work in professional, scientific and technical services than in other provinces. These industries, which are higher paying, are a factor in Alberta's higher average wages.
Employees in Alberta also work more hours than employees in other provinces, in both the goods and services sectors. Average weekly hours worked in Alberta totalled 34.3 hours in August, compared with the national average of 32.9 hours.
In the goods sector, employees in Alberta worked an average of 40.2 hours a week in August, compared with the national average of 38.0 hours. In the services sector, average hours totalled 32.8 hours in Alberta, compared with 32.1 hours nationally.
While hours worked declined in most provinces in the 12 months to August, average weekly hours increased 0.9% in Alberta from 34.0 hours to 34.3 hours.