Wage Trend and Benefits
The median hourly wage for employees in Canada grew 6.3% in 2020 – the highest annual growth for the past 23 years. Nova Scotia had the highest growth at 9.9%. The average annual growth in median wages between 2015 and 2020 was 3.0% for Nova Scotia and for Canada.
Although rising median wages may seem good, this wage increase reflects the loss of employment amongst lower wage workers who have been disproportionately affected by public health measures in response to COVID-19.
The median wage for the goods-producing sector in the province had a lower growth rate (2.5%) than the services-producing sector (9.7%) in 2020 compared to 2019. The five-year average growth rate in median hourly wages was only 0.1 percentage point higher for the services-producing sector.
The median hourly wage for males grew 4.5% in 2020, whereas the growth seen for females was 9.2%. The median hourly wage average growth for females and males over the last five-year period of 2015 to 2020 differed by 0.2 percentage points (2.8% for males and 3.0% for females).
Median hourly wages for full-time employment increased by 9.1%, whereas part-time median hourly wages grew 9.8% in 2020 compared to 2019.
Wages by Province
Nova Scotia’s median hourly wage had the highest growth in 2020, 9.9%. The national average wage growth was 6.3%. Quebec and Ontario had the second and third greatest growth in wages after Nova Scotia, with 8.3% and 8.2% respectively. New Brunswick and Newfoundland had the lowest wage growth rates at 4.1% and 5.3%, respectively.
Although Nova Scotia had the highest growth in wages, it is the third lowest in value at $21.98 per hour, just after Prince Edward Island at $21.25 and New Brunswick at $21.00. Alberta ($28.85 per hour) has the highest median wage rate.
Nova Scotia’s median hourly wage for unionized employees ($27.03) was $7.80 higher than for non-unionized employees ($19.23) in 2020. The province’s median hourly wage growth for unionized and non-unionized wages was 2.3% and 7.2%, respectively.
The median hourly wage for non-unionized employees in 2020 compared to 2019 increased faster than that of unionized employees in most provinces, with the exceptions of Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan had the highest growth in median hourly wages for unionized employees (10.1%) and Ontario had the highest growth in hourly wages for non-unionized employees (10.1%) in 2020 compared to 2019.