New Data Shows Workers Not Getting Ahead in the Boom

New research produced by the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Parkland Institute shows that wages in Alberta are lagging behind the rate of inflation. As well, inequality is on the rise in the province. The numbers reveal a disturbing trend that suggests average Albertans are not benefiting from the boom.

The research is one of the highlights of Treading Water: Workers, Wages and the Boom, a conference this weekend co-sponsored by the AFL and Parkland Institute. The conference runs Friday evening and all-day Saturday at the downtown campus of Grant MacEwan College.

Some of the data to be presented at the conference include:

  • After factoring for inflation, the average hourly wage in Alberta in 2006 was $19.30. In 2001 it was $19.37. Decreases were found in many industries.
  • Real wages in construction have dropped, from $25.28 in 2001 to $23.35 in 2006.
  • Preliminary data for the first part of 2007 shows stagnant and declining wages.
  • Despite the boom Alberta has become the province with the highest percentage of employed clients visiting food banks.
  • Corporations are benefiting from the boom. In current dollars, Alberta corporate profits rose from $12 billion in 1998 to $54 billion in 2006

"The bottom line is that average Albertans are not benefiting from Alberta's boom. Wages are stuck in neutral," says Parkland Executive Director Ricardo Acuna. "Inflation is eating up any minimal wage gains being made by workers and as a result inequality is on the rise."

"Basically the claim that wages are skyrocketing in Alberta is a myth," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "The boom is only working for oil companies and a handful of people at the top of the pile. For most of us, the struggle to make ends meet continues."

The conference will also highlight how the boom is making things worse for some groups. For example, Aboriginal unemployment is on the rise, and young workers are falling farther behind.

Other highlights of the conference include:

  • Friday 7:00 pm. Keynote Speaker, Sam Gindin: "The Politics of Wages: Who's Holding You Back and Why."
  • Saturday 9:00 a.m.: Official release of new wage research by AFL and Parkland
  • Saturday 3:30 p.m.: "Getting More In Your Wallet: Policy Solutions"

The media are welcome during all portions of the conference.

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For more Information:

Ricardo Acuna, Parkland Institute Executive Director, (780)492-8558, (780)951-7180 (cell)

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

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