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Farming and natural resources jobs saw the biggest bump in pay in 2023

Financial Accountability Office of Ontario labour market report shows modest employment growth
(NOFIA Facebook photo, Aug, 2019)

Agriculture and the natural resources sector saw the biggest jump in wages in 2023, according a report released by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO).

The non-partisan FAO published a report on Feb. 28 that reviews the performance of Ontario labour’s market in 2023.  

Agriculture was the industry with the fastest pace of job gains last year, easily recording the strongest annual wage rate increase at 19.6 per cent. The average hourly wage rate in 2023 was $25.90.

The natural resources sector came next. Those lumped into the forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas industries experienced a 10.1 per cent raise, on average, in 2023 compared to the previous year. The average hourly rate is $44.60 for people working on those industries.

Coming next in wage increases were the manufacturing (7.8 per cent), professional, scientific and technical services (6.7 per cent), and transportation/warehousing (5.9 per cent) sectors.

Of the 16 major industry groups, the FAO said 12 industries saw their average hourly wage rate increase faster than inflation. 

By industry, people flocked to jobs in health care and social assistance, up 37,600 or 4.0 per cent. Wages in this particular field increased slightly above inflation at 4.0 per cent. 

Wages for workers in the information, culture and recreation industry declined by 1.0 per cent.

Overall, Ontario's labour market “moderated” in 2023 with employment increasing by 183,200 jobs (2.4 per cent), after two years of record job gains. 

The annual unemployment rate in the province inched up from 5.6 per cent in 2022 to 5.7 per cent in 2023.

Those in their prime working years (25 to 54 years old) had the fastest pace of job gains at 2.7 per cent. Their labour market participation rate reached a record high of 88.3 per cent in 2023. 

Employment in the public sector rose at a slower pace than the private sector (1.6 per cent versus 3.3 per cent) in 2023, after recording faster job gains the previous two years. 

Ontario ranked sixth among Canadian provinces for job growth in 2023 at 2.4 per cent compared in 2022.

All major cities in Ontario saw an increase in employment in 2023 with the exception of Hamilton (-1.1 per cent) and Oshawa (-1.0 per cent).

Windsor led the way at 8.2 per cent followed by the Ontario side of the Ottawa-Gatineau region at 5.7 per cent, and Kingston at 5.1 per cent.

Thunder Bay was in the middle of the pack at 3.4 per cent. Sudbury experienced marginal job growth at 1.8 per cent. 

Young workers had the slowest pace of job growth in 2023, with a 4.7 per cent increase in male youth employment offset by a 1.2 per cent decline in female youth employment.

The number of self-employed Ontarians declined by 9,800 (-0.9 per cent) last year, the third drop in the past four years. Self-employed workers accounted for 13.6 per cent of total employment in 2023, the lowest segment of workers since 1991.

Following two years of wage growth lagging inflation, the average hourly wage of Ontario workers increased by 5.1 per cent in 2023, above the 3.8 per cent consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate. Wage growth was above inflation in all major demographic groups and types of employment except part-time workers.

The FAO provides independent analysis on the state of the Province’s finances, trends in the provincial economy and related matters important to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.