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Canada. Average weekly earnings on the rise

From April to May, average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees increased 0.5% to $875.64. On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings were 3.3% higher compared with May 2010.

The 3.3% growth in average weekly earnings during the 12 months to May 2011 can be attributed to a number of factors in addition to wage growth, such as changes in the composition of employment by industry, by occupation and by level of job experience.

The average number of hours worked per week, which can also contribute to growth in average weekly earnings, remained unchanged from May 2010 at 32.9 hours.

Average weekly earnings rose in every province in the 12 months to May, led by growth in Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta. The slowest growth was in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

Average weekly earnings in Newfoundland and Labrador have been growing at a faster pace than that of Canada as a whole since late 2008. In May, Newfoundland and Labrador posted earning levels above the national average for the fourth consecutive month, the first time such a trend has occurred in this province since comparable data became available in 2001.

Growth in average weekly earnings was above the national average of 3.3% in 4 of the 10 largest industrial sectors. The fastest year-over-year increases were in wholesale trade and manufacturing while the slowest occurred in accommodation and food services.

In the 12 months to May, average weekly earnings in wholesale trade increased by 5.5% to $1,064.86. Earnings in this sector have been increasing since the fourth quarter of 2009. Since May 2010, earnings growth has been notable in wholesalers of petroleum products; building material and supplies; and machinery, equipment and supplies.

The second-fastest rate of growth in average weekly earnings in the 12 months to May occurred in manufacturing, where earnings increased by 4.5% to $992.77. This upward trend in earnings started in the fourth quarter of 2009, with notable year-over-year growth in beverage and tobacco product manufacturing; furniture; printing; and plastics and rubber products.

Growth in average weekly earnings was also above the national average in some smaller sectors. Since May 2010, weekly earnings in information and culture have risen by 9.7% to $1,097.07, mainly in telecommunications; broadcasting (except Internet); and motion picture and sound recording industries. In arts, entertainment and recreation, earnings have increased by 6.9% to $570.58, primarily in performing arts, spectator sports and amusement, gambling and recreation industries.

Average weekly hours worked

At 32.9 hours, average weekly hours were unchanged from the previous month and at the same level as 12 months earlier.

Notable year-over-year increases in average weekly hours worked occurred in information and culture (+5.4%) and health care and social assistance (+2.4%). At the same time, there were declines in other sectors, the largest being in real estate and rental and leasing (-3.3%); mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction (-2.7%); and arts, entertainment and recreation (-1.8%).

Non-farm payroll employment by sector

From April to May, the number of non-farm payroll employees declined by 15,000, following three months of increases. On a year-over-year basis, the number of employees rose by 233,200 (+1.6%).

The decrease in monthly payroll employment in May was observed in both goods and services, with the largest declines in construction; educational services; retail trade; and accommodation and food services.

While little changed in May, the fastest year-over-year job growth occurred in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction (+12.1%), where payroll employment rose by 22,200. Growth in this sector was driven by gains in support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction in Alberta.

© Statistics Canada -

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