Report: wages stagnant

By Ben Hoffman

The Alberta Federation of Labour has released a report that shows a trend of stagnation and decline in the average Albertan’s wage. However, some question the data analyzed.

Entitled Running to Stand Still, the January document used Statistics Canada data to demonstrate that the average weekly wage corrected to inflation has flatlined, something the AFL believes shouldn’t happen in Alberta’s strong economy. The AFL predicted that there could be a decline in wages in 2003, which was confirmed by new data.

"We noticed that wages fell in 2002, and we didn’t try to claim that it was a trend," said AFL Director of Research Tom Fuller. "Then, it happened again in 2003."

University of Calgary Economics professor Dr. Chris Bruce is skeptical of the results stated by AFL.

"If you look at collective bargaining agreements [another measure of wages], wage increases have been at least as high as inflation in the last three years," he said.

Also skeptical is Alberta Dep-artment of Human Resources and Employment spokesperson James Frey.

"Our research shows that wages are going up," said Frey. "The average hourly rate over the last five years has increased 19 per cent. That’s higher than inflation."

Fuller was surprised to hear of the disagreements.

"I’m astounded that they said that," he said. "Collective bargaining agreements are only for unionized workers."

Fuller also had some suggestions to the government to help combat the decline.

"Implicit in our criticisms of government policies are some measures [to combat wage decline]," he said. "We need a minimum wage that is indexed to inflation. We need labour laws that allow us to do our job."


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