The COVID-19 pandemic cost jobs, but increased wages: report

A lone customer orders food at a food court in a downtown office building in Montreal, on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Quebec has given offices the greenlight to allow up to 25 per cent of workers to return to the job but the response has been lukewarm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Even during a year of unprecedented economic uncertainty in Quebec, wages were higher in August 2020 than in August 2019.

The surprising finding emerges from the most recent study by the Institut de la statistique du Quebec. The study compares not only employment before and during the pandemic, but also weekly wages.

In Aug. 2020, Quebec had only 93.5 per cent of the salaried jobs it had in August 2019.

What is surprising is that the total weekly payroll has not declined, even though employment has.

It even grew, to the point of reaching 101.4 per cent of what it was in Aug. 2019, despite the job losses.

Luc Cloutier-Villeneuve, an analyst in labour statistics at the ISQ, said the phenomenon can be explained by several factors.

Some sectors were under enormous strain, such as healthcare, leading to a greater number of staff positions and weekly working hours.

The healthcare and social assistance sector both recorded an increase of weekly wages in Aug. 2020 compared to Aug. 2019.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2021.

SIGN UP NOW

Stay up-to-date and in-the-know by subscribing to one of our newsletters