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Weekly earnings up, employment down

AVERAGE weekly earnings were up for the third straight month in Manitoba in December, new Statistics Canada figures show.

The agency said Tuesday earnings grew by 0.8 per cent to $842.10 from $835.82 in November. The increase was the third-largest among the provinces after a 1.2 per cent jump in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Manitoba also had the third-biggest year-over-year earnings gain at 4.1 per cent. Saskatchewan and Alberta were the leaders there, as well, with increases of five per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively.

With December's gain, Manitoba continued to have the sixth-highest average weekly earnings among the provinces, ahead of Quebec and the three Maritime provinces.

On the jobs front, the news was less encouraging. Statistics Canada said Manitoba lost 4,600 payroll jobs from November to December, as the number of payroll employees fell to 571,500 from 576,100 in November.

However, even with the decline, there were still 5,000 more payroll workers in Manitoba than in December 2011 when there were 566,500, the agency said.

It said Manitoba was one of eight provinces to see a reduction in the number of payroll employees in December. The other two provinces saw no change in their numbers.

Payroll employees are people who work for someone, as opposed to being self employed.

The Statistics Canada report was one of two employment-related reports released on Tuesday.

The Conference Board of Canada released its help-wanted index report for January and it showed job prospects are looking up again in Winnipeg.

The Ottawa-based think-tank said a January survey of 79 job-posting websites in Canada showed an increase in help-wanted postings in 25 of 27 Canadian cities, including Winnipeg, suggesting labour markets are on the rebound.

-- Murray McNeill

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