It’s a tight labour market, and that means many companies in BC are now offering more money in a bid to attract and retain workers.
Wages in this province are up six per cent year over year, according to Statistics Canada’s March figures. In comparison, they only went up 1.5 per cent in March, 2017.
Construction is one of those industries where it seems firms are willing to pay higher than usual in order to get the workers needed to complete projects.
But Cissy Pau with Clear HR Consulting says pay is up in most sectors. “I want to say, from our clients, it’s kind of across the board. We are seeing it a bit in tech. We’re seeing it in middle management — in professional-level positions, for sure.”
“We’re certainly seeing it with our clients, in terms of their base salaries for their positions. [They’re] creeping up a little bit. We’ve just gone past the new year and we’ve had clients looking at salary increases,” she adds.
Pau says this is also pushing employers to get creative with perks and other incentives.
“If you can’t compete on cash, what we often talk to our clients about, is what else can you offer? Is it the work environment, is it the job opportunities, is it what you do in the community,” says Pau. “What else can you offer that makes your position or your company a compelling place to work?”
Economist Bryan Yu with Central 1 Credit Union expects this trend will continue, given strong employment figures in other parts of the country.
“What we have with B.C. is wage growth in the four per cent range over the next few years,” says Yu of Central 1’s projections. “I just don’t see a lot of supply coming in on the labour side right now. We have improving economic conditions in other provinces, so that’s going to constrain some of the interprovincial employment flows into BC.
“We already have high participation rates, so I think what we’re in for is slower employment growth, but low unemployment rates.”
He tells us this situation will likely pose challenges for employers.
“They’re going to have to find workers, find labour. They’re going to have to pay more — that’s what we’re seeing in the wage numbers. And if they can’t, it’s going to be a question of how they improve capital efficiency and ensuring that they’re able to have more productive workers — either investing in new machines, equipment, software, whatever the case may be — to help drive some of their sales a little bit more in the future.”