Todd Hirsch • Chief Economist ATB  June 26, 2014.   Paycheques of Alberta employees rose to another record high in April as companies and businesses feel the pressure of labour shortages. Statistics Canada reports the average weekly earnings of employees in the province rose to $1,141.70 in April, up 4.3 per cent from a year ago. That figure includes overtime pay and is calculated before taxes and other deductions. Nationally, earnings rose to $932 for an annual increase of 3.3 per cent. It would be easy to conclude Albertans are getting ahead. Alberta’s earnings increase was far greater than the rate of annual consumer price inflation in April (2.7 per cent). However, there are dangers with that leap of logic. While earnings of employees are indeed rising, the survey of Payroll Employment, Earnings and Hours captures only the earnings of employees—not the self-employed, the unemployed or those on fixed pensions. It’s also important to note the consumer price index does not include expenses like local taxes and fees or school transportation fees for families with children. The reality for some families is, despite the rising wages in Alberta, making ends meet may still be a challenge. Rising earnings come at a considerable cost to employers—many of whom are feeling the pinch of labour market shortages. Boosting pay at a rate greater than the cost of life puts a strain on the long-term viability of many companies.