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Canadians get a raise in December as economic expansion takes hold

Canadians get a raise in December as economic expansion takes hold

In the latest indication of Canada's ever strengthening economy, workers' earnings rose this past December, giving individuals more cash to spend and store owners' cash counters additional currency, including polymer notes, to sort through.

During the last month of 2017, average weekly earnings for the nation's employees reached $993, according to Statistics Canada. Although only a small uptick from November, the salary bump was 2.3 per cent higher on a year-over-year basis. 

3.9 per cent jump In Quebecers' pay

In some provinces, however, weekly income levels rose more sharply than the national average. For instance, in Quebec, earnings elevated nearly 4 per cent in the 12 months to December, with residents of the province making roughly $922 in the typical workweek, according to Statistics Canada. Meanwhile, in Saskatchewan, wages reached an average of $1,034, up 2.7 per cent from a year earlier. Pay levels in British Columbia rose by the same 2.7 per cent rate during the 31-day period, moving area residents' average income to $957 per week.

The robust growth in full-time workers' earnings helps explain why many retailers closed out 2017 on a positive note. During the fourth quarter, purchase activity at Canada-based stores climbed 1.5 per cent from the immediately previous three-month period and nearly 7 per cent for the year as a whole, based on separate data collected and disseminated by Statistics Canada. At the provincial level, Ontario-based retail stores had the most lucrative 2017, with sales up 6.4 per cent overall. All 10 provinces recorded positive sales figures on the year and the 6.7 per cent annual growth rate was the largest recorded for the sector in 20 years.

Low-income population drops to 9 per cent

While Canada was one of several countries that felt the adverse effects of the global recession, which officially lasted about a year and a half, the nation's economy seems to have turned a corner, with a larger swath of Canadians having more money to spend. Indeed, according to the Montreal Economic Institute, Canada's low-income population has dwindled, falling to 9 per cent from 13 per cent back in 1985.

Alexandre Moreau, MEI public policy analyst, indicated that when Canada's economy gains ground, virtually everyone is a beneficiary.

"The economic facts once again debunk the popular belief that growth only benefits the rich," Moreau explained.

Retailers and business owners, in general, remain hopeful 2018 will be another strong year. Should this be the case for 2018, money counters capable of processing currency, including polymer notes, will be a necessity.