The Alberta Federation of Labour has released data showing that real, inflation-adjusted wages in the province have fallen for the second year in a row, and for the fourth time in five years. According to figures published by the Government of Alberta, average weekly earnings in the province rose from $699.18 in 2002 to $708.24 in 2003, an increase of 1.3%. During the same period, the Consumer Price Index for Alberta, which measures inflation in the province, increased from 124.2 in 2002 to 129.7 in 2003, giving an inflation rate of 4.4%. The net result is a decline of 3% in real wages. (To see chart tracking the decline, click here.)
AFL President Les Steel said this latest data confirms a disturbing trend: "The fact is that, despite a booming economy, high energy prices and huge government surpluses, the average working Albertan is seeing a slow but steady decline in their standard of living."
"The amount of goods and services we can buy with our paychecks is dwindling, and at the same time we're getting fewer public services because of government cutbacks," said Steel. "If this is what the boom looks like, I don't look forward to seeing the next recession."
AFL researcher Tom Fuller said the figures confirm a trend of wage stagnation identified by the Federation in a study published earlier this year: "In our booklet Running to Stand Still, we pointed out the puzzling reality of stagnant real wages in a booming economy - something economic theory says shouldn't happen."
Steel points to government policy as the culprit, "You've got anti-worker labour laws that help hold down wages, but deregulation for industry that lets profits and prices shoot up. The average Albertan in caught in the middle. It's time the citizens of this province woke up and demanded their share of the benefits from this booming economy."
Since 1998, real weekly earnings in Alberta have fallen by a total of 5%.
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For further information contact:
Les Steel, President @ (work) 780-483-3021/(cell) 780-499-4135
Tom Fuller, Director of Research @ (work) 780-483-3021/(cell) 780-719-7840