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Payroll employment, earnings and hours, September 2015

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Released: 2015-11-26

Average weekly earnings


September 2015


(12-month change)

Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $955 in September, up 1.0% from the previous month. Compared with 12 months earlier, average weekly earnings increased by 1.7%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings and average weekly hours
Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings and average weekly hours

The increase in weekly earnings compared with September 2014 reflected a number of factors, including wage growth, changes in the composition of employment by industry, occupation, and level of job experience as well as average hours worked per week.

Non-farm payroll employees worked an average of 33.0 hours per week in September, up from 32.8 hours in August but little changed from September 2014.

Average weekly earnings by sector

In the 12 months to September, average weekly earnings growth outpaced the national average in 6 of the 10 largest industrial sectors, led by administrative and support services, wholesale trade as well as educational services. At the same time, earnings declined in construction and were little changed in retail trade.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings in the 10 largest sectors, September 2015
Year-over-year change in average weekly earnings in the 10 largest sectors, September 2015

On a year-over-year basis, earnings in administrative and support services increased 7.8% to $793, partly because earnings in this sector were at a relatively low point in September 2014.

Earnings in wholesale trade were up 6.8% to $1,167 compared with September 2014. Most of this growth was driven by gains in machinery, equipment and supplies wholesalers.

In educational services, average weekly earnings rose 6.0% to $1,030. The earnings increase was widespread, led by gains in community colleges and CEGEPs.

In construction, earnings fell 2.6% to $1,208 in the 12 months to September, the biggest decline since 2009. The declines were spread across several industries, most notably in utility system construction, which is the highest earning industry in the sector. The declines were mostly in Alberta.

Among the smaller industrial sectors, earnings in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector fell 5.7% to $1,949 in the 12 months to September.

Average weekly earnings by province

Year over year, average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees increased in seven provinces in September, led by Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Over the same period, earnings declined in Alberta, while they were little changed in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Saskatchewan.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings by province, September 2015
Year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings by province, September 2015

Average weekly earnings in Prince Edward Island increased 4.3% to $806 in the 12 months to September. Earnings growth was driven by gains in manufacturing, educational services as well as health care and social assistance.

Compared with September 2014, earnings in Quebec were up 3.6% to $873. Earnings growth was led by educational services, wholesale trade as well as professional, scientific and technical services. Most of the increase was observed in the first half of 2015.

In Ontario, average weekly earnings increased 2.6% to $966. Gains were spread across most sectors, with the highest growth in accommodation and food services, wholesale trade as well as administrative and support services.

Earnings in Alberta declined 1.5% to $1,136 in the 12 months to September. The declines were spread across several sectors, most notably in two high-earning sectors: mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction as well as construction. Earnings in Alberta have been on a downward trend since January.

Non-farm payroll employment by sector

The number of non-farm payroll jobs increased by 30,700 in September, after declining by 34,100 in August. Increases were widespread, led by health care and social assistance. At the same time, there were declines in transportation and warehousing and 'other services.'

Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of non-farm payroll employees increased by 98,200 or 0.6%. The rate of employment growth was highest in arts, entertainment and recreation (+6.6% or +17,000).

The number of payroll employees increased the most in health care and social assistance (+38,100 or +2.1%) as well as accommodation and food services (+28,500 or +2.4%). At the same time, employment declined notably in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (-27,700 or -11.8%), mostly in Alberta.

  Note to readers

The Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) is produced by a combination of a census of approximately one million payroll deductions provided by the Canada Revenue Agency, as well as the Business Payrolls Survey, which collects data from a sample of 15,000 establishments. The key objective of SEPH is to provide a monthly portrait of the level of earnings, and the number of jobs and hours worked by detailed industry at the national, provincial and territorial level.

Estimates of average weekly earnings and hours worked are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling variability. This analysis focuses on differences between estimates that are statistically significant at the 68% confidence level. Payroll employment estimates are based on a census of administrative data and are not subject to sampling variability.

Statistics Canada also produces employment estimates from its Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS is a monthly household survey, the main objective of which 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 facilitate comparisons by removing the effects of seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

Non-farm payroll employment data are for all hourly and salaried employees, as well as the "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 that could not be classified to a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.

All earnings data include overtime pay and exclude businesses that could not be classified to a NAICS code. Earnings data are based on gross taxable payroll before source deductions. Average weekly earnings are derived by dividing total weekly earnings by the number of employees.

With each release, data for the current reference month are subject to revision. Data have been revised for the previous month. Users are encouraged to request and use the most up-to-date data for each month.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Updated CANSIM tables 281-8023, 281-8026, 281-8047 and 281-8063 will be available on December 10. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on payroll employment, earnings and hours for October will be released on December 22.


A summary table is available from the Browse by key resource module of our website. Under Summary tables, choose Subject then Labour.

Job Vacancy Statistics (survey number 5202) from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours for August are now available in CANSIM.

More information about the concepts and use of the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours is available online in the Guide to the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (Catalogue number72-203-G), from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Andrew Fields (613-951-3551;, Labour Statistics Division.

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