Wage Growth over the Past 30 Years: Changing Wages by Age and Education (2012)

Analytical Paper

This analytical paper is based on data from Statistics Canada research aimed at providing information on how wage rates of Canadian workers have changed over the past three decades. Wages are expressed in 2010 dollars.

Specifically, the authors ask which groups of Canadian workers have experienced stronger real wage growth over the past three decades, and to what extent individuals’ acquisition of education, general work experience, and seniority within firms account for differences in real wage growth seen across groups of workers.

While the average wages of Canadian full-time workers grew faster during the 2000s than during the previous two decades, that wage growth was far from uniform. From 1981 to 1998, men and women aged 45 to 54 experienced faster wage growth than did their younger counterparts aged 25 to 34. The opposite was true from 1998 to 2011.

From 1980 to 2000, wages of males with bachelor degrees grew faster than those of males with trades certificates or high school diplomas, while the opposite trend prevailed in the 2000s, the authors note. Among workers with comparable work experience, pay differences across education levels widened during the first two decades, but narrowed during the 2000s.

The authors point out that the compression of wage differences in Canada across education levels since 2000 has coincided with three important economic shocks: a severe employment contraction in the computer and telecommunications industries between 2001 and 2004; a strong construction sector; and an increase in the world prices of oil and other commodities produced in Canada. While the first shock may have affected demand for university graduates, the other two probably contributed to employment growth in the construction, mining, and oil and gas extraction industries.

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978 1 100 20776-6
APA citation
René Morissette, Yuqian Lu and Garnett Picot. Wage Growth over the Past 30 Years: Changing Wages by Age and Education 2012. Web. 2 Mar. 2021 <http://en.copian.ca/library/research/stats/wage_growth_30_years/wage_growth_30_years.pdf>
René Morissette, Yuqian Lu & Garnett Picot (2012). Wage Growth over the Past 30 Years: Changing Wages by Age and Education. Retrieved March 2, 2021, from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/stats/wage_growth_30_years/wage_growth_30_years.pdf
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