A bigger pay packet

What you can expect department.

Middle managers are going to love 2007. For the first time, the average paper pusher will enjoy a full year in the 100-grand club, plus an expected 3.9% raise, according to a recent Conference Board of Canada report. Senior execs, meanwhile, will see their average salaries jump past $250,000, not including long-term incentives such as stock plans, bonuses and other benefits.

Fortunately, it looks like there's good news coming for the rest of Canadians, as well. Non-union employees can expect an average 3.9% raise in 2007. That's on top of a 3.8% hike in 2006, and easily tops the forecasted inflation rate of 1.4%. In fact, salaries have exceeded inflation in each of the past 11 years.

The reason? Canada's now-chronic labour shortage. Manpower Inc. reported in October that roughly a quarter of this country's businesses would have hired more permanent professionals in 2006 had they been available. And 24% are now paying more to attract the necessary talent. That shortfall is expected to continue for at least 10 years, as more people start retiring and the birthrate continues to decline, according to Mike Doyle, Manpower's regional director for Central Canada. And the situation will force companies to be even more clever at attracting talent. “Obviously you can't keep on paying more and more and more to infinity. It's going to hurt your bottom line,” says Doyle. “So companies are going to have to offer different things that make it nice to work there, such as flexible benefits, flexible hours, day care, fitness, these sorts of things.”

For employees, these are “pretty sweet” times, especially if you're willing to pick up and move, says Doyle. The Conference Board predicts workers in Alberta and B.C. will get the biggest pay increases, especially in the oilpatch, while those in Ontario and Atlantic Canada can expect lower-than-average raises. Aside from energy, hot job markets include transportation, utilities, health care and education. Construction workers will fare the worst, with just a 3% jump next year, proving that a white-collar education really is worth it after all.