Salary slowdown in the West

National average salary still predicted to increase

Having surveyed more than 200 organizations this summer, Calgary-based Wynford Group is projecting a national average base salary increase of 4.04 per cent for 2008 (compared to an actual gain in 2007 of 4.54).

Again, Alberta provided the highest actual increases in 2007 (at 5.53 per cent) and while that is expected to continue in 2008, it should be slightly lower at 5.24 per cent.

“Things have cooled down a little bit,” says Gail Evans, president of the Wynford Group, an HR consulting firm. “(Alberta) is actually starting to normalize because it’s been so over the top for the last couple of years.”

She says there are signs of slowdowns, such as layoffs in the energy services sector as some drilling programs decelerate because of the costs of doing business and the dearth of people.

“There’s still an extreme shortage of people in many occupations, particularly technical, construction, engineers, IT and human resources people. But some of the growth has slowed down so it’s normalizing and a lot of people are quite happy about that. It’s not a recession, it’s something that needed to happen, everything was going at breakneck speed.”

British Columbia and Saskatchewan/Manitoba should see increases of 4.43 per cent and 3.59 per cent respectively, while Ontario is expected to see base salary increases of 3.93 per cent, Quebec 3.61 per cent and the Atlantic provinces 3.37 per cent.

Organizations are offering more flexibility to attract and retain employees, says Evans, such as additional personal days, working from home or more time off.

“It’s ironic, there’s a shortage of people but they give them more time off,” says Evans.

Another interesting trend is in Saskatchewan, which is much more worried about being competitive than in the past, she says.

“Part of that is driven by the Alberta pull for employees and they’re more conscious of that. There’s been more concern and in Saskatoon housing prices have increased the most dramatically in the country. So there are some inflationary issues having some impact in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.”

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