Conference Board Gets it Wrong on Wages

The Alberta Federation of Labour responded today to a Conference Board of Canada study, released this morning, stating that wages across Canada are on the rise due to wage pressure in Alberta. The AFL points out that the study is methodologically flawed and does not reflect the actual wage patterns in Alberta for the first part of 2007.

"The Conference Board has dressed up a survey of employers as a bona fide study," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "For all the talk of mythical wage increases, the reality for Alberta workers is one of stagnant real wages."

The AFL points out two flaws in the Conference Board analysis. First, it is not a report of actual wages, but is instead a survey of employer "forecasts" for the next year. Second, its reported wage increases do not factor for inflation, which is currently running at around five percent in Alberta.

"The actual data for wages in 2007 shows a different picture than the Conference Board conclusion," observes McGowan. "For the first seven months of 2007, average hourly earnings show no increase whatsoever - even before factoring for inflation."

According to Statistics Canada (CANSIM Table 281-0029) average nominal hourly wages in Alberta was $20.05 in January 2007. In July 2007 - seven months later - it was $20.04. If inflation is factored in, wages actually dropped during the period.

In fact, Alberta wages are not going up during this boom, says the AFL. "According to Statistics Canada data, average real hourly wages was lower in 2006 than it was in 1999," notes McGowan. "Workers are not getting ahead in this boom. They are, at best, treading water."

The problem, says McGowan, is that bad labour laws, aggressive employer tactics, the growing use of temporary foreign workers and spiraling inflation are preventing Alberta workers from benefiting from the boom.

"When it comes to wage data, I will put my trust in Statistics Canada over some employer survey any day," says McGowan.

"The real issue here is why wages are not going up and what we can do about," concludes McGowan.

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For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL President   @  780.218-9888 (cell)

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