Payroll employment, earnings and hours

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March 2011 (preliminary) (Previous release)

From February to March 2011, average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees increased 0.5% to $876.53. On a year-over-year basis, average weekly earnings were 4.1% higher compared with March 2010.

Some of the 4.1% growth in weekly earnings was attributable to a 0.3% increase in the average number of hours worked per week to 33.0 hours. The remainder reflects other factors, such as wage growth and changes in the composition of employment by industry, by occupation and by level of job experience.

Year-to-year change in average weekly hours and average weekly earnings

Average weekly earnings increased in every province in the 12 months to March. Growth was above the national average in Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Quebec. Nova Scotia had the slowest growth at 2.1%.

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.

Non-farm payroll employment data are for all hourly and salaried employees, as well as 'other employees' category, which includes piece-rate and commission-only employees.

Average weekly hours data are for hourly and salaried employees only and exclude businesses which could not be classified to a North American Industrial Classification System code.

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.

Year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings by province, March 2010 to March 2011

Growth in average weekly earnings was above the national average of 4.1% in 5 of the 10 largest industrial sectors, led by wholesale trade and manufacturing. The slowest growth in earnings occurred in educational services.

Average weekly earnings in wholesale trade increased 6.3% in the 12 months to March, to $1,082.34. Growth in this sector was most notable in industries such as petroleum product wholesaling; wholesale electronic markets, agents and brokers; and building material and supplies.

With the second-fastest year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings, the gains in manufacturing are part of a long-term upward trend — see 'Sector profile' section.

Year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings was also above the national average in some smaller industries such as finance and insurance (+7.6% to $1,107.52) and transportation and warehousing (+7.5% to $926.88). Weekly earnings in finance and insurance have been rising since June 2010, particularly among insurance carriers and credit intermediation (such as banks and sales financing). In transportation and warehousing, earnings have been increasing since January 2010, mainly in postal, courier and messenger services, rail transportation as well as transit and ground passenger transportation.

Year-to-year change in average weekly earnings in the 10 largest sectors, March 2010 to March 2011

Average weekly hours worked

Average weekly hours worked amounted to 33.0 hours in March, unchanged over the past nine months. Compared with March 2010, the average workweek was up 0.3%.

By sector, forestry, logging and support had the fastest year-over-year growth (+4.4%) to 38.1 hours. Other notable year-over-year increases in average weekly hours were in health care and social assistance (+2.7%); finance and insurance (+1.8%) and manufacturing (+1.3%). At the same time, there were declines in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction (-3.4%) and educational services (-3.1%).

Non-farm payroll employment by sector

In March, non-farm payroll employment increased by 21,400 compared with the month before. On a year-over-year basis, the number of non-farm employees increased by 241,000 (+1.6%).

In March, payroll employment increased in a number of sectors, with the largest gains in manufacturing and public administration. At the same time, there were declines in a few sectors, with the largest in information and culture.

The fastest year-over-year payroll employment growth of all sectors was in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction (+15.2% or 27,400). This growth was driven by support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction in Alberta.

Construction had the second-highest year-over-year growth in payroll employment (+3.3% or 26,800). The growth was spread across most provinces and mainly among specialty trade contractors.

Sector profile: Manufacturing

From time to time, this release will profile an industrial sector with a notable trend in earnings, hours or employment. This month, the manufacturing sector is profiled because of its solid growth in earnings, hours and employment in recent months.

Manufacturing has nearly 1.5 million payroll employees, the third largest of all sectors behind retail trade and health care and social assistance. The largest shares of manufacturing employees are in food manufacturing (15%), transportation equipment (11%), fabricated metal products (10%) and machinery (9%).

Manufacturing payroll employment

Payroll employment in manufacturing declined steadily from 2003 until August 2008, and then dropped sharply until December 2009 in conjunction with the global economic downturn. The average monthly job losses in manufacturing from August 2008 to December 2009 were 14,500.

However, since December 2009, manufacturing payroll employment has been increasing slightly, with average monthly gains of 2,400.

From December 2009 to March 2011, the number of employees in most manufacturing industries was largely unchanged. Some industries in the sector have shown notable job gains, including machinery; fabricated metal products; primary metals; plastic and rubber products; and petroleum and coal product manufacturing.

A few manufacturing industries continued their long-term job declines over this period, with notable losses in printing and related support activities; furniture and related products; and clothing, leather and allied product manufacturing.

Average weekly earnings in manufacturing have been on an upward trend since October 2009. In the 12 months to March, earnings in this sector rose 5.8%, faster than the national average of 4.1%.

The sector's average weekly earnings, at $1,005.68, are above the all-sector average of $876.53. There is wide variation in earnings across manufacturing industry groups, ranging from an average of $540 per week for the 27,000 employees working in clothing, leather and allied product manufacturing to $2,255 a week for the 19,000 employees in petroleum and coal product manufacturing.

In the 12 months to March, growth in earnings has been above the manufacturing sector average growth in electrical equipment, appliance and components; printing and related activities; paper; machinery; furniture; chemical; fabricated metal products; and non-metallic mineral manufacturing.

In recent months, some of the growth in weekly earnings in manufacturing has come from an increase in average weekly hours. For example, in the 12 months to March, average weekly hours in this sector increased 1.3% to 38.1 hours. During the recent economic downturn, average weekly hours fell to a low of 36.9 hours in April 2009.

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 April will be released on June 30.

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 Jason Gilmore (613-951-7118), Labour Statistics Division.