There's always a lot of attention paid to wages and jobs in the oil and gas sector. But what about at the other end of the pay scale? How have Albertans earning low wages fared through the recession and now into the rebound?
Over the last five years, (Feb'13 to Feb'18) workers in the two lowest paying sectors—retail, and accommodation and food—have seen their average weekly earnings increase. But the two have moved in different ways.
Weekly earnings in retail are up 12.2 per cent from five years ago. That compares favourably against the provincial average of 5.6 per cent. However, workers in accommodation and food have barely seen an increase in weekly earnings at all--a small gain of 3.5 per cent. That hasn't even kept up with inflation.
At the same time, total hours are up 0.4 hours for retail workers, and down 1.8 for accommodation and food.
So what's the upshot to all of this?
Trends over the last five years—which involved a nasty recession and a jump in the minimum wage—seem to have been positive for retail workers. They are working a few more hours and earning higher weekly paycheques. But it has been negative for those in accommodation and food. They're working fewer hours on average, and their paycheques have barely risen.
If there's a positive note for accommodation and food workers, it is that there's little evidence to suggest jobs are being lost. Total employment is up 10.3 per cent for accommodation and food compared to five years ago.