Wage growth lagging behind rising cost of living: StatsCan data

Maureen Turner uses her phone to pay for her coffee at a Starbucks in Mississauga, Ont. on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah Yoon)

Canadians’ paycheques are lagging behind the rising cost of living, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The research — which comes from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours – indicates that average weekly earnings in March jumped 0.9 per cent over last year.

But, at the same time, Canada’s annual inflation rate tracked at 1.6 per cent.

Data from the government’s Labour Force Survey released earlier this year also had similar findings, pegging the growth of average weekly earnings at 1.1 per cent.

Douglas Porter, chief economist at the Bank of Montreal, told the Globe and Mail that these two data sets are a strong indication that wage growth has stalled.

“It’s pretty strong evidence, when you have got both surveys essentially sending the same signal that wage growth is around 1 per cent,” said Porter.

The SEPH data is considered more reliable as it is based on payroll information from the Canada Revenue Agency, as well as reports from the Business Payrolls Survey.

Meanwhile, the Labour Force Survey uses self-reported information from Canadians about their wages and job status.

Statistics Canada said the increase in average weekly earnings could be attributed to gains in the wholesalers, food and hospitality, and education.

The largest growth in earnings was experienced in Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario.

While there was “little change” in the other provinces.