Which Industries Pay Best? 

Statistics Canada tracks the average weekly wage for Canada, the provinces, and territories.  The data is tracked by Sector (Goods Producing and Services Producing) and by Industry using the North American Industry Classification System.

The average weekly wages for Goods Producing Sector Industries jobs are all higher than the average weekly wage for 71% of Services Sector Industries jobs.

Along with showing the general upward trend for average weekly wages over the long term, the following graph provides a quick understanding of the relationships between Goods and Services Producing Sector wages for Canada and Alberta as well as how Alberta’s wages compare to the Canadian overall average.

Data Source: Statistics Canada. Table – 14-10-0203-01   Average weekly earnings by industry, monthly, unadjusted for seasonality

Over the 16 -year period (01/2004 to 01/2019) Alberta’s average annual weekly wage change was 3.4% for the Goods Producing Sector and 3.87% for the Services Producing Sector, Canada’s annual average wage change was 2.57% (Goods) and 3.14% (Services).  Alberta’s average weekly wages are higher than the Canadian average weekly wage.

The Global Recession (2007 – 2010) impact on Canada as a whole is seen in the average weekly wages for Canada.  The impact of the 2014 oil and gas industry and resulting economic slowdown in Alberta are clearly visible in the drop in average weekly wage in 2016. While the Alberta Services Sector Industries have recovered slightly (+0.05%) as compared to the 2015 average, the Goods Sector average weekly wages remain lower as of January 2019.

Reduced numbers of highly paid senior staff, wage rollbacks, wage freezes and the completion of severance package payouts are among reasons why it took until 2016 for the impact of the recession to show up in the average weekly wage.

Questions or comments?  Please contact me at anne@annehoward.com.

Posted in Insight, News

Canada’s Labour Force Participation

Canada’s labour force includes everyone who is 15 years of age and older.  Labour force participants are individuals who are employed or on EI and are actively seeking employment.  The major factors affecting Labour Force participation are economic conditions, the proportion of the population that is between birth and 15 years of age and older.

Statistics Canada provides low, moderate and high growth estimates for Canada’s future population. In 2030 Canada’s 10.1 million Baby Boomers will be between 65 and 84 years old. Current estimates for Canada’s population in 2030 are a low of 38.6 million, moderate of 41 million and a high of 43.6 million people.  If we go with the moderate population growth number, in 2030 25% of the population will be 65 and older.

In the decade between 2008 and 2018, the proportion of the population between birth and 14 years of age has declined from 16.8% to 16.1% of the population. Over that period the overall population has grown by 11.2%, with the young growing by only 6.3% – less than half the rate of the rest of the population. Canada already has more people over the age of 65 than it does people younger than 15 and has a birth rate that is below replacement levels, which suggests that the Labour Force participation rate will continue to decline for at least the next decade.

There are several other challenges for workers and organizations resulting from the aging of the population. A topic for another blog in the next few weeks.

Questions or comments?  Please contact me at anne@annehoward.com

Posted in Insight, News

Labour Force Information for August 2019


The August data was released September 6. Unemployment in Alberta is up 7.2% ( 7.0% July and 6.6% in June) for the third consecutive month and remains higher than it was last year over the summer months (2018 – August  6.7%, July 6.7%,  and June 6.5%).    It remains lower than it was between January 2016 and June 2017 when oil and gas industry downturn effects were greatest (Thankfully!!)

Alberta’s Labour Force has grown this year with 18.7 thousand more participants and 4.1 thousand more people employed.  The number of unemployed (on EI and actively looking for work) has increased by 14.6 thousand since last August.

Industries with the biggest losses of employment this year in August as compared to last year:

  1. Forestry, Fishing, Mining, Oil & Gas:  -11.6%
  2. Business, Building & Other Support Services: -6.5%
  3. Accommodation and Food Services: -4.4%

Industries with the largest employment gains as compared to last August were:

  1. Public Administration: +6.6%
  2. Health Care & Social Assistance: +4.9%
  3. Manufacturing: +4.6%
  4. Finance, Insurance, Real Estate & Leasing: +3.3%
  5. Professional, Scientific and Technical Services: +3.1%

Canada’s unemployment rate is 5.8%, down from 6.1% in August 2018.  Only New Brunswick and Alberta experienced increased provincial unemployment rates in August 2019.

Since last week when I posted a blog about some of Alberta’s July 2019 Labour Force data, another 5000 Canadian Baby Boomers have retired.  Those retirees do not affect the employment or unemployment rates – they affect the Labour Force Participation rates.  Alberta has the highest provincial participation rate at 71.5%.

Questions or comments?  Please contact me at anne@annehoward.com

Posted in Insight, News

Labour Force Information

Every month the Federal and Provincial Governments provide information about the employment and unemployment statistics, average weekly wage, and job vacancies along with a variety of other economic data.

The monthly Labour Force Statistics provide month over month and year over year information along with a breakdown of employment by industry.

The July 2019 data release in early August tells us:

  • The overall unemployment rate is 7.0% and has increased by 0.3% since last July which is 12,300 more people actively looking for work in July than was the case last July.
  • It also tells us that a total of 177,600 people are actively looking for work which is an increase of 9,700 more people looking for work than there was in July 2018.
  • Calgary’s unemployment has gone down by just under 1%; Edmonton’s has gone up by 1%.

The good news is that employment is up this July over last July by 19,200 people. And the Canadian Federation of Independent Business indicates that Canada’s Job Vacancy Rate while not increasing is holding at 3.2% – roughly 429,000 unfilled jobs through the first half of this year.  It is highest in BC and Quebec and lowest in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  Alberta’s unfilled jobs are down, sitting at 1.9% of Labour Demand.




Posted in Insight, News

Private Sector Job Openings

Statistics Canada released their Job Vacancy Change Survey for Q1 2019 as compared to Q1 2018 in June.

The Job Vacancy Rate is determined by the presence of three specific factors:

  1. There is a specific job;
  2. The work could start within 30 days, and;
  3. The employer is actively seeking employees from outside the company.

The Private Sector which employs roughly two-thirds of Canadians refers to organizations that are privately owned and Public Sector jobs refer to jobs that are “owned and operated by the government (public bodies or public authorities).

Job Vacancies were down in that period for Alberta – specifically in the following regions:

  • Red Deer (- 1,000 jobs)
  • Wood-Buffalo-Cold Lake (-500 jobs)
  • Camrose-Drumheller (-300 jobs)
  • Banff-Jasper-Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca-Grande Prairie-Peace River (-1000)


At the end of March 2019 Alberta’s Labour Force (18,900 people), Unemployment (15,600 people), and Employment (4,600 people) were up.  The gap between the Labour Force and the combination of unemployed and employed people (1300 people) is the number of people who are no longer included in the employed or unemployed groups.  They are people who are not on EI, not working,  or not working in the visible labour market.

Job Vacancy rates do not rise and fall consistently with Unemployment Rates. Unemployment can rise at the same time as Job Vacancies increase.  Job Vacancy Rates can also go up when employment numbers increase as more jobs are created and when new skills are required.

Questions or comments?  Please contact me at anne@annehoward.com

Posted in Insight, News

Job Vacancies in Alberta

The Job Vacancy Rate is determined by the presence of three specific factors:

  1. There is a specific job;
  2. The work could start within 30 days, and;
  3. The employer is actively seeking employees from outside the company.

Statistics Canada maintains longer-term data on labour demand, job vacancies and the vacancy rate for Canada and the provinces.  The following table provides the total labour demand by year, with the green portion of the column showing met labour demand, the blue showing unmet (or vacant positions) demand, with the yellow showing the vacancy rate.


StatsCan Table 14-10-0225-01, Job Vacancies, Labour Demand and Job Vacancy Rate, Annual

In Canada overall and in every province, Job Vacancies are higher in skilled occupations than they are in semi or unskilled occupations.

Where are the Jobs?

The Goods Producing Sector employed 25.4% of the Alberta labour force and the Services Sector 74.6% in July 2019.

The Goods Producing Sector jobs include Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Mining, Oil & Gas, Utilities, Construction, and Manufacturing.

  • Agriculture and Manufacturing jobs are down from last month (a combined total of 500 jobs) and up from July of 2018 (1700 and 5900 respectively:
  • Forestry, Fishing, Mining, Oil & Gas are down from June 2019 (7200 jobs) and July last year (11,800 jobs)
  • Construction is up from last month (4,600 jobs) and down from last year (2200 jobs)
  • Utilities are up this year by 200 jobs, July over June, as well as (800 jobs) over July 2018

Overall, The Goods Producing Sector is down a total of 5700 jobs this July as compared to last July.

Employment in the Service Producing Sector is up by 24,900 jobs in July this year as compared to July 2018.

Only 3 of the 14 Service Sector Industries, (Educational Services, Information, Culture & Recreation, and Accommodation & Food Services) have lost jobsThe highest demand in the Services Sector is in the Personal Services industries, which includes things like daycare, accounting, counselling and rehabilitation, legal, laundry, auto repair, lawn maintenance, and funeral services.

Of those Service Sector Industries that lost jobs in July 2019, the one with the lowest average weekly earnings is the Accommodation & Food Services Industry which at January 2019 was $451.78 and is the lowest of all industries.


Questions or comments?  Please contact me at anne@annehoward.com

Posted in Insight, News | Tagged , , ,

Mystique of Culture

Canadian culture is frequently seen in comparison to the US.  It is described as a more polite version of the American culture due to our penchant for saying I’m sorry, having some oddities to our language including the use of the words “toque” and “Eh”, again in comparison to the Americans, and being otherwise very similar, though generally quieter and gentler than our southern neighbors.

While all of those things are descriptors of components of culture they don’t really provide a solid understanding of culture and how it is formed.  The sociological definition in the Oxford Dictionary begins, “culture refers to the symbolic element of social life …”  which is a bit esoteric.  We typically describe culture as the shared values, beliefs, goals, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviours shared by a group of people.  That group can be small – like a nuclear family, larger – like an organization, or even larger – ike a country.

Culture is dynamic.  Culture influences peoples’ values, beliefs, goals, assumptions,  attitudes, and behaviours.  As people internalize the norms of culture we are changed.  As we change we cause our culture to change, and then we change again as we adapt.  People and culture are mutually constituting.

Culture will form as a result of what we do and do not do.  If we establish a set of rules (like stopping for red lights) and hold people accountable for conforming to those rules the culture will establish those behaviours as norms of the society.   When we permit bad behaviour (like accepting lateness for meetings or ignoring derogatory comments) we are accepting incivility and discrimination as societal norms.

What are some of the cultural artifacts that make us Canadian and different than Americans?



What differences would you add?

Want to learn more about culture changes in the workplace?

There is still space in our Culture Management Session on September 25th.  The purpose of our session is to discuss changes that have recently taken place in the regulatory and social environments and share ideas about their implications for organizations and the people who work in them.

My colleague, Kellie Donohue and I will be talking about change factors, the priorities for organizations, and will also touch on managing risk including from the perspective of supervisors in a world where they are accountable for psychological safety on the job.  You can register here:


Posted in Insight | Tagged , , , ,