B.C. posts year-over-year wage growth in June

Wage growth in B.C. remained solid in June despite losing some momentum following a strong gain the prior month.

Weekly earnings averaged $996.30, down 0.5 per cent from the previous month but up 3.2 per cent from a year ago.

Average hourly wages were up by a near-identical pace, meaning growth was driven by compensation gains rather than an increase in hours worked over the past year.

This was confirmed by a three per cent gain in a fixed-weighted index of hourly earnings.

Gains have picked up in the last three months and are running ahead of inflation, reflecting tight labour market conditions.

Growth was broad across sectors, with year-over-year gains led by services-producing sectors, which increased by 3.1 per cent.

Sector highlights included transportation and warehousing (up 5.1 per cent), trade (up 4.3 per cent), professional, scientific and technical services (up 5.5 per cent) and accommodations and food-services (up 5.2 per cent).

Goods-producing sectors were up a modest 2.8 per cent, with gains in construction (up 4.2 per cent) and manufacturing (up 3.4 per cent).

The struggling forestry and related sectors were a drag, with weekly earnings down 5.7 per cent and utilities down 9.4 per cent.

Non-farm payroll counts in B.C. edged higher by 0.1 per cent to 2.33 million persons.

Year-over-year, payroll counts rose by a solid 2.3 per cent.

The latter increase was third-highest among provinces and was led by gains in professional and technical services (up five per cent), art, entertainment and recreation (up 6.6 per cent), health care and social services (up 5.6 per cent) and public administration (up 5.2 per cent).

Growth was solid across most sectors, albeit with drag from forestry, information and cultural industries and accommodation and food services.

Confidence among B.C.’s small and medium-sized businesses improved but remained shallow in August.

The latest Canadian Federation of Independent Business monthly Business Barometer came in at a disappointing 55.3 points.

While up two points from July, and above recent months’ readings, this is below the long-term average of 60 to 65 points typically indicative of stronger economic conditions.

Fewer small businesses are expecting strengthening conditions over the next year.

B.C.’s index level was among the lowest in Canada and was ahead of only Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador.

An index value above 50 points means the number of firms expecting stronger conditions over the coming year outnumber those expecting weaker conditions.

Ongoing sluggishness in B.C.’s confidence reading comes despite what is expected to be modest growth in the economy this year of about 2.2 per cent. 

- Bryan Yu, Business In Vancouver

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