Manitoba’s Work Environment Ekes out Improvements during Recession

Oct 15, 2010 | Corporate Member News

The overall work environment in Manitoba saw improvements in four out of five indicators in 2009 according to the MB Check-Up 2010, the ninth annual economic analysis of the province as a place to live, work and invest by the Chartered Accountants of Manitoba. 

Gary Hannaford, CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba

“The one indicator that didn’t improve, the unemployment rate, could still be viewed positively as it reflected the success of the province’s efforts to attract foreign workers to relieve the pressure of Manitoba’s very tight labour market,” said Gary Hannaford, CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba. 

In Manitoba, the unemployment rate increased from 4.2 per cent to 5.2 per cent last year. However, this jump was the second lowest increase (behind Saskatchewan) and the province’s unemployment rate remained far below the 8.3 per cent national figure. 

“The most recent numbers from Stats Canada show that very little has changed from last year,” Hannaford said. “With a current unemployment rate of 5.4 per cent, Manitoba is still well below the national average of 8.0 per cent.” 

The MB Check-Up shows that overall the province added only 200 new jobs to its economy last year. The only other province to see job growth last year was Saskatchewan and the national average was a decrease of -1.6 per cent. 

Manitoba’s rate of job creation over the last five years was 5.3 per cent, just under the national average of 5.7 per cent. 

“This trend of a slow and steady growth rate reflects the nature of Manitoba’s highly diversified economy and you can see how that trait has insulated the province from the job losses seen across most of the country,” Hannaford said. 

However, Manitoba remains far behind its western neighbours who have driven much of the country’s job creation since 2004: Alberta with 13.1 per cent; BC with 9.5 per cent; and Saskatchewan with 8.5 per cent job growth. 

The Work section of MB Check-Up also shows that real wages increased by 2.6 per cent in 2009, second only to Alberta’s 3.6 per cent jump. Despite this wage growth, Manitoba continues to have the lowest real wage rate ($22.58) in the comparison jurisdictions. 

“One reason wages remain low in Manitoba is the low cost of living. However, the trend over the past five years is a narrowing of the wage gap between Manitoba and the national average,” Hannaford said. 

Since 2004, Manitoba’s real wages have grown 8.0 per cent and the hourly wage gap with the Canadian average is slowly closing from $1.72 per hour in 2004 to $1.48 per hour in 2009. 

Manitoba had the lowest labour force educational attainment (58.0 per cent) of the comparison jurisdictions in 2009. On the other hand, this was a personal best for the province and its growth rate of 1.0 percentage points was ahead of the national average of 0.8 percentage points. 

 “A higher level of labour force educational attainment is an important element of enhancing labour productivity and improving competitiveness,” Hannaford said. 

Between 2004 and 2009, educational attainment in Manitoba’s labour force grew 3.7 percentage points, the second slowest gain of all jurisdictions. Only Saskatchewan lagged with an increase of 2.9 percentage points. 

“The other provinces have higher levels of educational attainment and have also been improving at a faster rate,” Hannaford said. 

Manitoba continued to lead the pack in pay equality with a female to male earnings ratio of 0.920, the highest ratio in Canada. 

MB Check-Up is published annually by the Chartered Accountants of Manitoba and provides an independent factual comparison of the four Western provinces, together with Ontario and the Canadian average using 14 key indicators to create a profile of each as a place to live, a place to work and a place to invest.

For further information, contact:
Tanya Beck, Manager of Communications
p: 204 924.4416   e: [email protected] 

The entire published MB Check-Up will be available at on October 15. 

With more than 2,800 members and 400 CA students, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba carries out its primary mission to protect the public by ensuring that its members have the highest level of competence and integrity as a result of demanding standards for admission to the profession, its continuous learning policy and its inspection and discipline processes. Thanks to the quality and rigor of their education and training, CAs bring superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight and leadership to every organization.

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