Minimum wage in 2013 same as 1975 in constant dollars: Statistics Canada

The average minimum wage has remained unchanged in real terms for almost four decades, but economists say more recent increases are likely to continue in the coming years.

TORONTO — The average minimum wage has remained unchanged in real terms for almost four decades, but economists say more recent increases are likely to continue in the coming years.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday the average minimum wage was $10.14 in 2013 and the 1975 wage, expressed in 2013 dollars, was $10.13.

Between 1975 and 2013, however, the minimum wage in 2013 dollars, varied, slipping to $7.53 in 1986 before rising to $8.81 in 1996 — and up to 2003, the real minimum wage remained stable at around $8.50.

“If you’re looking at it in terms of have we made any progress, well, in real terms, no, there hasn’t been any growth in almost 40 years adjusted for inflation,” said Doug Porter, chief economist with the Bank of Montreal.

“But the good news story is that it has come back meaningfully in recent years. That’s not necessarily good news to everyone — some employers could say that wage costs are making them a bit uncompetitive, although there I think the real issue is the currency, not wages.”

As a share of average wages, Porter added, the minimum wage has been climbing fairly steadily since the low was reached back in the mid-80s.

“Based on what certain provinces are doing, I think it’s fair to assume that it will continue to climb in the years ahead, even adjusted for inflation,” he said.

Derek Burleton, deputy chief economist at TD Bank, said the trend stems in part from a catch-up effect after years of government inaction, adding that the current rates are helping young people and low-income individuals, given some of the big cost increases households are facing, especially when it comes to housing.

“Overall, when I look at the recent trend of minimum wages, I think that given the fact they’ve been held stable for so long, they’ve been increased over a gradual period of time, it doesn’t seem like it’s had any huge impact on employment.”

After a period of significant decline in the minimum wage in real terms, Burleton added, the rebound over the past five to 10 years has positioned companies well to absorb the increases.

“We haven’t seen any major negative impacts, and if anything some of the positive effects may have won out,” he said

Erin Weir, an economist with the United Steelworkers, pointed out that the figures show that Canada’s lowest-paid workers “gained only a penny an hour over the past four decades.

But, he said that as many provinces are now indexing their minimum wages to inflation, “this problem should not repeat itself.”

“However, further increases above the inflation rate are needed to actually make low-paid workers better off than four decades ago,” he said.

The Statistics Canada report also found there is now a bigger portion of Canadians earning the minimum wage, with 6.7 per cent of all paid employees earning those wages in 2013, up from five per cent in 1997.

“To some degree, the increase in the proportion of minimum-wage employees during those years was the result of increases in the minimum-wage rate in many provinces,” Statistics Canada said.

“This is because a portion of those who were paid just above the former minimum rate became paid at the new, revised rate and joined the group of minimum-wage earners.”

Burleton said the increase in minimum-wage workers isn’t surprising in the face of falling unionization rates an a shift toward service jobs.

“This is an international trend where you’ve seen a shift toward industries that both pay toward the upper end of the income scale and the lower end, where the minimum wage shops fall,” he said.

Statistics Canada said young employees, less-educated employees, part-timers and people in service industries were most likely to be paid minimum wage.

The proportion of employees paid at minimum wage also varied by province in 2013, with Prince Edward Island and Ontario leading the pack.

Alberta had the lowest rate at 1.8 per cent.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

More than 120,000 Albertans have signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of appointment bookings. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta Health Services apologizes after seniors struggle to book vaccine appointments

The CEO and president of Alberta Health Services is apologizing after seniors… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Kyle Moore, 26, will be a houseguest on Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. (Photo courtesy Big Brother Canada)
Red Deer man will be a houseguest on Big Brother Canada

A Red Deer man will be a houseguest on the upcoming season… Continue reading

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Most Read