Bank of Canada offers explanations for country’s ‘puzzling’ wage disappointment

Technological advances have lowered demand for routine jobs, reduced competition

A senior Bank of Canada official offered explanations Thursday for the country’s “puzzling” and disappointing stretch of wage gains, even though job market been experiencing one of its biggest labour shortages in years.

In a Toronto speech, senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins said weaker wage growth in energy-producing provinces since the 2014 oil-price slump has dragged down national numbers.

But she said even after accounting for these factors, wages have fallen short of where they should be in a tightened job market that has seen Canada’s unemployment rate drop to a 43-year low.

“This is particularly puzzling when you consider what businesses are telling us about how hard it is to fill jobs,” Wilkins told the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

“As far as I can tell, no one has found a smoking gun,” she said of the search for an explanation.

“But there are at least a couple of compelling suspects.”

READ MORE: GDP contracted 0.1% in November

Wilkins said wages are also likely lower than expected as employers struggle to find candidates with the right skills, cautious employees decline to trade up for higher-paying positions elsewhere and people are reluctant to move to a new city in order to land a new gig.

Structural factors, she added, may also be weighing on wages — such as technological advances that have lowered demand for routine jobs, reduced competition in some industries and the emergence of the so-called gig economy that has taken away bargaining power for some workers.

Wilkins offered potential areas for policy-makers and businesses to focus on to help improve the job market. They could invest in education and training, find ways to encourage labour mobility and increase the competitiveness of Canadian firms.

She noted the results of the bank’s latest business outlook survey suggested labour shortages were at one of their highest levels since the Great Recession a decade ago. Job vacancies, she added, are still rising in Canada and now total about 550,000.

In the months ahead, Wilkins said the central bank predicts Canada’s economic expansion to pick up its pace after a recent slow patch — and she anticipates wage growth will eventually accelerate along with it.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘God is a Scottish Drag Queen’ coming to the South Okanagan

Comedian Mike Delamont’s show opens on March 14 at Venables Theatre in Oliver.

Fire consumes unit at Osoyoos hotel

Fire chief proud of crew’s quick response, says result could have been a lot worse.

Penticton Search and Rescue issues advisory after second snowmobiler stranded in two weeks

The snowmobiler was able to snowshoe back to safety, without knowing that anyone was looking for him.

CHIME finds four days of noise, twelve days of silence from space

The radio telescope picked up the first recorded pattern in radio signals from space

Summerland’s Justin Kripps picks up back-to-back bronze medals in weekend racing

Canada’s two-man bobsleigh is third in the rankings heading into the World Championships

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read