Alberta’s wages fell the most of any province in 2020, says a report from ATB Financial.
The (unadjusted) compensation paid to employees in Alberta fell by six per cent or $10 billion in 2020 compared with 2019.
Nationally, the drop was 1.6 per cent or $18.5 billion. If Alberta is excluded, the drop in the rest of Canada was just 0.8 per cent or $8.5 billion.
The next largest drop in annual compensation after Alberta was in Newfoundland and Labrador, which were down 4.1 per cent, followed by Manitoba, down 2.8 per cent.
Compensation in Alberta was down the most in the second quarter of 2020 — 11.2 per cent —compared with the same quarter in 2019. Wages were still down 6.2 per cent in the fourth quarter. Compensation edged up by 0.2 per cent nationally — 1.2 per cent if Alberta is excluded — over the same period.
Annual employee compensation in Alberta was lower in all major sub-sectors, except federal public administration and agriculture and forestry.
The largest absolute and percentage drop in Alberta was in the professional and personal services category. Annual employee compensation in this sub-sector fell by 10.8 per cent or $2.9 billion last year. The next largest absolute drop was in construction where compensation fell by 9.6 per cent or $1.6 billion followed by oil and gas at 7.2 peer cent and $1.2 billion.
“The steeper decline in employee compensation in Alberta last year compared to the rest of the country is partially explained by the global oil price crash that reduced activity in the province’s oil patch,” says ATB Financial.
Annual employee compensation improved in four provinces: Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec.