Salary gains of 3.1 per cent expected in 2012: Conference Board

Highest increases projected in Saskatchewan, lowest in Ontario, Atlantic provinces

Amid an uncertain economic climate, Canadian workers can expect average salary increases of 3.1 per cent in 2012, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s Compensation Planning Outlook 2012.

“Canadian organizations remain optimistic, but guarded, in the midst of a turbulent global outlook and higher-than-normal economic risk,” said Karla Thorpe, director of leadership and human resources research at the Conference Board. “As confidence in the global economy continues to weaken, employers and employees watch anxiously in the hopes that Canada can weather the storm,”

The projected 2012 average non-unionized base pay increase of 3.1 per cent is higher than the actual average gains in both 2010 (2.7 per cent) and 2011 (three per cent). However, salary increases have not yet returned to pre-recession levels (increases averaged 4.2 per cent in 2008), said the Conference Board, which surveyed 381 organizations for the report.

At 3.9 per cent, Saskatchewan leads all provinces in 2012 average increases, followed by Alberta at 3.6 per cent. The lowest base pay increases are projected to occur in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, whose workers can expect gains of 2.7 per cent next year.

Projected increases are highest in the oil and gas industry at 4.3 per cent, followed by the natural resources industry (excluding oil and gas), at 4.1 per cent. The lowest average increases are expected in the retail trade sector, averaging 2.4 per cent, found the report.

The average projected increase in base pay among non-unionized employees in the private sector is 3.2 per cent, while non-unionized public sector workers are expected to see increases of 2.6 per cent.

Anticipated wage increases for unionized employees are projected to be two per cent in 2012 — 1.5 per cent in the public sector and 2.3 per cent in the private sector.

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