09/06/2012 10:14 EDT | Updated 11/06/2012 05:12 EST

Soaring wages put N.L. ahead of Ontario

New federal figures show that wages in Newfoundland and Labrador continue to climb strongly, with the province's workforce now pulling in pay second only to Alberta among the other provinces.

Statistics Canada reported that average weekly earnings for June were $924.42.

Among the provinces, only Alberta — with an average wage of $1,070.68 — ranked higher. (Each of the territories, where the cost of living is also significantly higher, reports higher average earnings.)

Powered largely by the offshore oil industry and a booming service economy in the St. John's area, Newfoundland and Labrador ranks first among the provinces for the rate of wage growth.

StatsCan found that wages in the province climbed seven per cent in the last year alone — enough to pull Newfoundland and Labrador ahead of traditional economic powerhouse Ontario.

Richard Alexander, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council, said the wage increases are not all good news.

"Employers are struggling to meet wages, specifically how fast those wages are increasing," Alexander told CBC News.

He pointed out that employers are struggling to compete with wages offered at megaprojects and in Alberta, but remain at a huge disadvantage.

"Not only do they have to match that wage, they have to make up a 45 per cent higher workers' compensation insurance premium on that wage, plus a two per cent payroll tax that doesn't exist in Alberta," he said.

He said employers in Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to encounter labour shortages — and lost opportunities — until there is a more level playing field with Alberta.