Alberta, Sask. seeing highest salary increases at 4 per cent: Conference Board

Slowest growth in Ontario, B.C.

Salary gains continue to be strong in Alberta and Saskatchewan at about four per cent this year, according to the Conference Board of Canada's Mid-Year Pulse Check.

"Economic growth is uneven across the country. While employers are feeling the pinch in Ontario and other parts of Eastern Canada, the oil and gas sector is pushing up wages in Alberta and Saskatchewan," said Ian Cullwick, vice-president, leadership and human resources research.

"Salaries in oil and gas this year are rising slightly faster than we projected, and labour markets in Western Canada are tightening. We have heard from natural resources firms that virtually all of them are having trouble finding the skilled workers they need."

The oil and gas sector continues to project the highest average salary increases, at 4.5 per cent, up from 4.2 per cent last fall, found the survey of 240 organizations across Canada. 

While most industry salary projections have changed little since last year, more than one-half of the companies in the food, beverage and tobacco industries reported revising salary increases down in recent months. As a result, the expected increase across these industries has fallen from 2.9 per cent to 2.3 per cent.

Salary growth projections have been revised upwards in Saskatchewan (four per cent) and Alberta (3.9 per cent). The projections for Quebec (2.7 per cent), Ontario (2.5 per cent) and British Columbia (2.5 per cent) have been revised downward, and remain below the national average of three per cent.

Across Canada, non-union salary increases in 2013 are projected to average three per cent.

More than two-thirds of respondents said economic conditions in 2013 will be comparable to those of 2012. One-quarter think business conditions are likely to improve, while only seven per cent believe that conditions will deteriorate in 2013.

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