Payroll employment, earnings and hours

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February 2011 (preliminary) (Previous release)

Between February 2010 and February 2011, average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees rose by 4.0% to $874.83. In comparison, average weekly earnings increased by 2.7% between February 2009 and February 2010.

The 12-month change in average weekly earnings

Some of the 4.0% growth in weekly earnings between February 2010 and February 2011 was attributable to a 0.9% increase in the average number of hours worked per week. In comparison, between February 2009 and February 2010, average hours declined by 0.3%. The remainder of the year-over-year earnings increase in February 2011 reflects a number of other factors, such as wage growth and changes in the composition of employment by industry, by occupation and by level of job experience.

Note to readers

The Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) is a business census of non-farm payroll employees. Its key objective is to provide a monthly portrait of the level of earnings, the number of jobs and hours worked by detailed industry at the national, provincial and territorial level.

Statistics Canada also produces employment estimates from its monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS is a household survey whose main objective is to divide the working-age population into three mutually exclusive groups: the employed (including the self-employed), unemployed and not in the labour force. This survey is the official source for the unemployment rate and collects data on the socio-demographic characteristics of all those in the labour market.

As a result of conceptual and methodological differences, estimates of changes from SEPH and LFS do differ from time to time. However, the trends in the data are quite similar.

Unless otherwise stated, this release presents seasonally adjusted data, which facilitates comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations.

All earnings data include overtime pay and exclude businesses which could not be classified to a North American Industrial Classification System code.

Average weekly earnings are derived by dividing total weekly earnings by the number of employees.

Changes in average earnings can be influenced by a number of factors. Changes in the level of earnings, the number of payroll employees, and the number of hours worked can have an impact. Other factors could include compositional changes over time, such as changes in the proportions of full-time and part-time work; proportions of casual, senior and junior employees; the occupational distribution within and across industries; and in the distribution of employment between industries. Such effects may apply differently within different provinces and territories, and over time.

Average weekly earnings increased in every province between February 2010 and February 2011. Growth was above the national average in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had the slowest growth.

Average weekly earnings by industry

Between February 2010 and February 2011, growth in average weekly earnings was above the national average of 4.0% in 4 of the 10 industries with more than 700,000 employees. The fastest earnings growth was in administrative and support services, while the slowest occurred in retail trade and construction.

The 12-month change in average weekly earnings in the 10 largest industries, February 2010 to February 2011

In administrative and support services, average weekly earnings increased by 8.2% to $749.97 in the 12 months leading to February 2011. This was the third consecutive month with year-over-year growth at or above 8%. Year-over-year growth was widespread across the industries in this sector.

Weekly earnings in professional, scientific and technical services continued their long-term upward trend, rising by 5.9% to $1,229.26 from February 2010 to February 2011. Growth was higher than the sector average in advertising and public relations; and in architectural, engineering and related services.

Earnings were up by 5.4% to $964.59 in educational services in the 12 months to February 2011, with the fastest earnings growth in elementary and secondary schools.

In wholesale trade, average weekly earnings increased by 4.4% to $1,067.69 in February from the same month a year earlier, continuing an upward trend observed over the previous six months. Notable year-over-year growth was recorded by motor vehicle and parts wholesalers.

Growth in average weekly earnings was also strong in some of the smaller sectors. From February 2010 to February 2011, the fastest growth among all sectors was in transportation and warehousing, where earnings increased by 8.6% to $928.13, continuing a steady upward trend that started about a year ago. Growth in this sector was most notable in postal services, support activities for transportation, urban transit systems and rail transportation.

Non-farm payroll employment by industry

Non-farm payroll employment rose by 23,600 (+0.2%) in February. Compared with a year earlier, the number of payroll jobs increased by 277,700 (+1.9%).

In manufacturing, payroll jobs increased for the third month in a row, up 8,900 (+0.6%) in February. Gains occurred in machinery manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, and fabricated metal product manufacturing. Between February 2010 and February 2011, payroll jobs in manufacturing rose by 21,400 (+1.5%).

In construction, payroll employment rose by 5,300 (+0.6%) in February, the sixth consecutive monthly increase. This gain was driven by utility system construction, non-residential building construction and building equipment contractors. Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of payroll jobs in construction was up 33,600 (+4.1%).

The number of payroll employees in finance and insurance rose by 5,200 (+0.8%) in February, mostly in credit intermediation and related activities, such as banking and sales financing. February's gain brings the number of payroll jobs in finance and insurance to about the same level as 12 months earlier.

Payroll employment rose by 5,200 in wholesale trade and 4,600 in retail trade (+0.7% and +0.2%, respectively), with notable gains in clothing stores, machinery, equipment and supplies wholesale, and electronics and appliance stores. Compared with a year earlier, the number of payroll jobs was up by 19,000 in wholesale and by 13,500 in retail.

Professional, scientific and technical services payroll employment increased by 4,500 (+0.6%) in February, with the gains coming mainly from architectural, engineering and related services. Payroll jobs in the overall sector rose by 16,800 from a year earlier.

The number of payroll jobs in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction increased by 4,500 (+2.2%) in February, continuing an upward trend that started in November 2009. Gains occurred in support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction; and in metal ore mining. Compared with a year earlier, payroll employment in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction rose by 29,000, or 16.3%, the fastest growth rate of all sectors.

Increases in payroll employment in February were partly offset by losses in health care and social assistance (-4,500) and in educational services (-4,100).

Hours worked and average hours worked by hourly and salaried employees

Total hours worked by hourly and salaried employees were unchanged in February compared with January. Compared with 12 months earlier, total hours increased by 2.4%.

Average weekly hours worked by hourly and salaried employees amounted to 33.0 hours in February, unchanged from the previous month and up 0.9% compared with February 2010.

Available on CANSIM: tables 281-0023 to 281-0039 and 281-0041 to 281-0046.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2612.

Detailed industry data, data by size of enterprise based on employment, and other labour market indicators will be available soon in the monthly publication Employment, Earnings and Hours (72-002-X, free).

Data on payroll employment, earnings and hours for March will be released on May 26.

For more information, or to order data, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-866-873-8788; 613-951-4090; To enquire about revisions, concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Lahouaria Yssaad (613-951-0627), Labour Statistics Division.