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Earnings and Incomes of Canadians Over the Past Quarter Century, 2006 Census: Earnings

Substantial differences in earnings growth across provinces and territories during the past quarter century

Median earnings of full-time full-year earners evolved differently across provinces and territories during the past 25 years.

Between 1980 and 2005, median earnings of individuals working full time on a full year basis fell 11.3% in British Columbia.

Median earnings fell by at least 3.0% in New Brunswick, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory, with declines amounting to 3.2%, 5.5%, 7.4% and 6.0%, respectively.

In contrast, median earnings grew 8.1% in Ontario, 5.4% in Prince Edward Island and 19.4% in the Northwest Territories.

Median earnings in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Alberta showed relatively little change between 1980 and 2005.

Table 3
Median earnings, 2005 constant dollars, of full-time full-year earners, provinces and territories, 1980 to 2005

Substantial interprovincial differences in earnings growth were also observed between 2000 and 2005.

As a result of an unprecedented economic boom, median earnings of Alberta workers employed full-time for the full year increased 7.8% between 2000 and 2005, the fastest growth rate among the provinces.

Thanks to sharp wage growth in educational services and public administration as well as strong hiring in public administration, median earnings for individuals in Nunavut rose 14.9%, the fastest growth rate in the country.

Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories also had relatively strong earnings growth, as median earnings of workers in these two regions increased by 6.4% and 7.1%, respectively.

Median earnings of full-time full-year earners increased, if at all, at a slower pace than the national average of 2.4% in six provinces: Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.

Quebec and British Columbia were the only two provinces to record a decline. Median earnings in Quebec fell by 0.3%. In British Columbia—a province that experienced higher-than-average employment growth—median earnings for individuals fell 3.4% to $42,230.

As labour market conditions improved and labour shortages developed in some sectors, new entrants to the labour market—whose wages are likely influenced by the number of job vacancies—might have been expected to enjoy stronger earnings growth than other earners. However, the census provided little evidence of a more rapid earnings growth among young workers, at least until 2005.

Median earnings of young full-time full-year earners aged 25 to 34 increased, if at all, no faster than those of their counterparts aged 45 to 54. As a result, the gap in earnings between these younger and older earners failed to narrow between 2000 and 2005, after widening substantially between 1980 and 2000.

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