Canadian Construction Workers, Farmers See Serious Income Gains

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Congratulations, farmers and construction workers of Canada — you guys are making money hand over fist. (Getty Images)
Congratulations, farmers and construction workers of Canada — you guys are making money hand over fist. (Getty Images)

Congratulations, farmers and construction workers of Canada — you guys are making money hand over fist.

Or so it would appear from a pair of new surveys from StatsCan, showing Canadian farmers’ profits jumping nearly a third in 2012, while construction workers took home the country’s largest pay hikes.

Farmers made a total profit of $7.3 billion in 2012, StatsCan said in a survey released Tuesday, a jump of 31.7 per cent over the previous year. That followed an even larger profit gain in 2011 — 51.6 per cent.

“Stronger prices for grains and oilseeds played a major role in boosting crop receipts,” StatsCan said. But the statistical agency cautioned that income “can vary widely from farm to farm,” depending on the particular crop, weather patterns and other factors.

Canada saw a bumper crop of grains this year, including including wheat, barley and canola, the CBC reports, noting that the rest of the world has also seen increases in grain production, which means prices could be weaker going forward.

Soaring incomes help to explain why prices for farmland have been on a tear lately. They’ve been outpacing both commercial and residential price hikes, growing an average of 12 per cent per year over the past five years.

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Wage Hikes By Industry, September 2013
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With little sign of a slowdown in Canada’s hot housing markets (except for some parts of Quebec and eastern Canada), construction workers are in increasing demand. They saw their average weekly earnings jump 6.7 per cent in the past year, compared to an average increase of 1.9 per cent for Canadian workers as a whole.

The average construction worker took home $1,220 in September, up from $1,143 a year earlier, StatsCan said in its payroll survey. The average weekly wage for all workers was $918, up a scant $17 from a year earlier.

The number of people employed in construction jumped 3.9 per cent, the largest increase except for real estate, which increased jobs by 4.9 per cent.

“Earnings in construction have been on an upward trend since the summer of 2011,” StatsCan said.

Construction-related jobs now account for 7.6 per cent of all employment in Canada, the highest proportion on record.

StatsCan’s data suggests demand for construction workers isn’t slowing. In some parts of Western Canada, shortages of construction workers are pushing employers to look outside the country for workers.

Twenty-eight construction companies, mostly from B.C. and Saskatchewan, attended recruitment drives in Ireland last month, offering nearly 500 jobs and the prospect of permanent residency in Canada under provincial nominee programs.

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