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Workers in Toronto plant trees on the roof of a new hotel in this photo from May 1. Earnings in Ontario were up just 0.1 per cent in March, to $896.61 a week, from a year ago, Statistics Canada’s payrolls data show. That’s far below the rate of annual inflation for that month of 1.9 per cent. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
Workers in Toronto plant trees on the roof of a new hotel in this photo from May 1. Earnings in Ontario were up just 0.1 per cent in March, to $896.61 a week, from a year ago, Statistics Canada’s payrolls data show. That’s far below the rate of annual inflation for that month of 1.9 per cent. (Moe Doiron/Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

Economy Lab

Ontario a drag on national wage growth Add to ...

Wage growth remains tame in Canada, and nowhere is it weakest than in the country’s most populous province.

Average weekly earnings rose 2.1 per cent among Canadian workers in March, led by Saskatchewan and Newfoundland -- where wage growth is running at twice the national pace.

It’s a contrast to Ontario. Earnings in the province were up just 0.1 per cent, to $896.61 a week, from a year ago, Statistics Canada’s payrolls data show. That’s far below the rate of annual inflation for that month of 1.9 per cent, meaning real wages are falling. Growth in the province has been lower than the national average since October, 2010.

It’s another sign of deep divergences in the country’s labour market. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nunavut have added the most amount of employees over the past year, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have fewer workers. Ontario lags the national average by this measure too.

Still-tepid wage growth suggests little inflationary pressure is coming from the labour market. Still, the national pace does appear to be picking up from the first two months of the year, when average wage growth was 2 per cent or less, as Canada’s jobs market strengthened.

Workers in Saskatchewan now earn, on average $918.15 a week, a 5.9-per-cent jump from last March. Earnings in the resource-rich province have outstripped the national average since last August.

Wage growth varies considerably by sector. Average earnings in professional, scientific and technical services is up 5.2 per cent, led by management, scientific and technical consulting; accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll; and architectural along with engineering services.

It’s also galloping ahead in construction, with a 5-per-cent gain, particularly for workers in residential and non-residential building construction.

Earnings are lower than a year ago in manufacturing and health care and social assistance.

Retail trade is the largest sector by employees in Canada -- and it is also (along with accommodation and food services) the lowest-paying industry in the country.

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