“Wages are just not enough to entice anyone to Vancouver. Everyone we’ve interviewed so far says “Hey, I need at least $X to get the same thing I already have”. And no company here that I know of can afford to pay $X.”

“I have to agree on the difficulty in attracting good, well skilled, engineers or technicians here… our company is looking to hire at least 3-4 people right now (pneumatics, electronic, electrical, PLC… that kind of stuff) and wages just are not enough to entice anyone to Vancouver… everyone we’ve interviewed so far says “hey I need at least $X to get the same thing I already have”… and no company here that I know of can afford to pay $X. Tough spot for companies in Vancouver.”
BurbsBoy at VCI 28 Jun 2012 10:20pm [hat-tip jesse]

It is best for a society and for its economy for housing to be priced near fundamental value, as judged by local incomes and price:rent ratios. Vancouver prices are two to three times higher than those determined by fundamentals.
– vreaa

30 responses to ““Wages are just not enough to entice anyone to Vancouver. Everyone we’ve interviewed so far says “Hey, I need at least $X to get the same thing I already have”. And no company here that I know of can afford to pay $X.”

  1. Thing’s are tough all over, IllustriousEd… and getting ‘tougher’.

    For example, recent cutbacks in Canadian defense expenditures combined with F-35 programme cost overruns have ‘somewhat’ curtailed the usual CanadaDay performances of the CF’s aerobatic demonstration team, the SnowBirds…


  2. I have no shortage of people lining up at my door, willing to take the software development jobs I have open at the (market) wages I’m willing to hire at. Different strokes for different industries I guess?

  3. How is everybody enjoying the summer weather? 15C and overecast in July – awesome! People should demand wage bonuses just for this…

  4. Funny, i’m employed in the same industry as burbsboy is trying to hire for. His take is exactly as i see it.

    When i first moved here (two years tomorrow) i was interviewed for a job where they wanted an experienced maintenance electrician with plc knowledge, to be paid $12/hr!!! How does an idea like that even enter a persons mind?

    • Some burger flippers make almost that much.

      • With tips, a good server can make double that wage. Unreal. But you know this is just part of an accelerating trend in the big picture towards lower wages. The kids coming up today are not going to just shoe-horn into the boomer jobs of the past and the good skilled trades. More likely the professional jobs will be eliminated altogether as retirements proceed and reposted under a new category or title thus cheapening them. The trades meanwhile will be levered down due to supply and demand during the next recession. I imagine it will have a tendency to further weaken the unions as it does in most recessions. Why would this one be different? The only big difference is this next slowdown will be on the harder side and that means competition for decent jobs will be fierce.

    • Well, BoogerBob (aside: what a DevilishlyGood ‘handle’!) – when an employer boasts, “market rates”… that normatively decodes as, “..the absolute least we can get away with.”

      The irony, of course, is that in the absence of “perfect information”, “perfect competition” and rational actors… There is no “market”, as classically defined. Only exploitation.

      Everyone loves a bargain but, generally speaking, “ya only Getz what ya pays for.”

      • Quite true, something only low productivity can square.

      • Bullshit.

      • Just to be more clear, this is the part that is BS:

        The irony, of course, is that in the absence of “perfect information”, “perfect competition” and rational actors… There is no “market”, as classically defined. Only exploitation.

        Such a short paragraph, so full of strawmans and discredited leftist thinking.

      • Two employees do the same work but one is paid twice as much because the employer was desperate for filling headcount and the job market was tight. Seen it; depending on where the company is located it’s either tolerated or seen as unfair. If the business case is good enough, employers will pay.

      • “If the business case is good enough, employers will pay.”
        Another BS. Where do you guys get your economic theories? Employers pay what the market is able to bear.

      • Isn’t that what I said? If an employee is too expensive for the business, the business doesn’t hire.

      • Ralph Cramdown

        Bubbly, if employers wanted a more perfect market for labour, they’d WELCOME their employees swapping raise and bonus stories, the better to disseminate info on who they want to stay and who to go. You ever worked in a place like that?

        Do you also disagree that nominal wages are sticky downward?

      • OK, if you say so…
        It’s not just about the business case. But we discussed this in the past already.
        It works the other way around too. If the candidate doesn’t like the rate offered, he doesn’t take the job. So, no exploitation.
        And sometimes there is simply very limited match between the demand and supply. That takes time to resolve, no matter the business case.

      • Ralph Cramdown, I am not sure where you are going with this. There is no such thing as objectively perfect market. What employers want and what is “better” for them is subjective.
        (Btw, I have never seen a company where the employees are not allowed to swap raise and bonus stories. Most employees don’t do that for personal reasons)

        Anyway, your post really doesn’t have anything to do with what I was talking about. I was just objecting to Nemesis’ straw-man argument and conclusion about exploitation.

        “Do you also disagree that nominal wages are sticky downward?” Ditto. What has this to do with what I wrote?
        But no, I do not disagree. Nominal wages are sticky downward. Nobody wants to take less if he thinks he can get more. So?

      • Ralph Cramdown

        But Nemesis is right. The job market suffers from just about every classical market dysfunction. You’ve got your search inefficiencies, VERY imperfect and asymmetric information, wage stickiness, unequal bargaining power and often, plain poor bargaining ability, complex labour laws and regulations, threatened or actual government intervention and the list goes on.

        In this forum, most talk is about the housing market, which is inefficient and opaque compared to capital markets, but positively transparent compared to labour markets. Heck, look South, to the greatest economy in the worls with one of the more efficient labour markets, and everyone down there is arguing whether high unemployment is due to low demand or labour skills mismatch. They can’t even figure that out.

      • All this is very amusing.

        I started writing a long post, but then I realized that there is really no point…

      • Whoa! Lets not have the Econ babel getting out of hand. I’m just looking to piss and moan along with a bunch of other bitter renters over how unfair life is.

        Now a lack of “rational actors” sounds like a large part of the problem and something i can identify with. If I had any sense, I would have stopped the car in Calgary.

        It’s no wonder so many people are leaving BC for…anywhere else. The delusion can only last so long.

      • “If the business case is good enough, employers will pay.” Another BS. Where do you guys get your economic theories?”… Bubbly

        FieldWork, Bubbly…


        Dr. J correctly noted that the “exploitation” effect does not always favour the employer although generally speaking this is not the case. Alas, If I had more time I would elucidate this evening… Perhaps later?

      • “If an employee doesn’t like the rate offered, he doesn’t take the job.”

        One of the most hilarious and blinkered statements I’ve ever read. Of course, there’s a surplus of poor babies delectable on the tongue. And if they can’t eat bread on the side, they should simply eat cake.

    • Also, in my husband’s department at local major software company, employees were explicitly told not to discuss their compensation with each other.

      • Same for my company. They tell us they can fire us if we do. 🙂

      • Ralph Cramdown

        I was working in a technology back office on Bay St. two decades ago. Come the annual raises and bonuses, the overnight computer operators had to back up the system, run the daily reports and consolidations, back up the system again, run the salary and bonus report for the entire company (for the erudition of our departments’ lower level employees), and recover the system from the second backup to cover the audit trail built into the payroll system. The rest of the company, however, suffered from imperfect information.

  5. This is an awesome debating technique. In the absence of any salient counter argument just plug you ears and go nananananannananananan

    Maybe if you chant long enough you can also summon the confidence fairies back to the market and prove some Nobel prize winning economists wrong.

    • Hmmm, ok, please explain, which one of this is a “classical market dysfunction”:
      – unequal bargaining power and often, plain poor bargaining ability
      – complex labour laws and regulations
      – threatened or actual government intervention

      I am not religious but right now, Matthew 7:6 comes to mind. That’s why I won’t continue this debate anymore.

      • Well I know one thing…..all the theory breaks down as soon as you are a rural Mexican farm worker with only manual skills to get you by. No exploitation there (sarc) as people take what is offered, not what the work actually demands. Most of the Third World offers a litany of similar situations. It is not about how much food costs necessarily or how many expenses an employee is burdened with. The boss usually doesn’t give a crap what the workers need anyway. That’s why we get sweatshop shoes made by kids earning 50 cents an hour. In a tough climate workers have little to no bargaining power and as we have seen by the numbers of jobs that vanished across Europe and the America’s in the past two decades, employers are more than willing to walk away where collective bargaining rules got too fierce and where unionization held too much sway with government. The cards are stacked in the bosses favour when he is paying salaries so low they barely make eating affordable. It is the modern version of slavery with one big exception; there is no where to run away too anymore, almost no possibility to live off the land and subsist if necessary and it is virtually impossible to exist without identification of some sort anywhere on planet earth. The cycle of the employment trap is almost complete. All that is left is to wreck the Western middle classes and then everyone will shut up and be a lot more cooperative. I am not agreeing with it…..only saying that is what is coming.

      • The ‘third world’ is closer than you think, Farmer… For example, what follows are production stills from a Spanish language WorkSafe BC film produced at public expense to promote safe working practices amongst the HardyYetDisposable Campesinos who daily toil amidst the OkiVines for TransNational DrinksConglomerates like MarkAnthony Group, VinCorps, et al…


        Which brings us back to economics… In neo-classical theory, capitalist viniculturists unable to entice sufficient indigenous EagerWorkers at a given wage PricePoint would simply offer a higher wage and would then subsequently either absorb the increased cost of labour inputs and/or pass them along to the consumer… At some point, “equilibrium” would be achieved (a grotesque oversimplification, but for now, it will do).

        In practice however, that industry has found it more advantageous/profitable to simply purchase regional political favours to exempt themselves from established provincial minimum wage/labour standards and – the real ‘icing on the cake’ – at the federal level they have successfully championed (decodes as purchased) an immigration regime enabling them to entirely bypass endogenous labour ‘markets’/norms/rules/practices… Brilliant, really… how they have effectively outsourced ‘in country’ work. Sadly, a stratagem by no means restricted to the agricultural sector…

        One afterthought, the penultimate shot (HappyMountie Inspects GuestWorker’s Papers) in the portfolio linked to above is just begging for an irreverent caption… Any volunteers?

  6. I work in the same industry and it is the same. My company has been losing people to Alberta. We recently had a couple move here from Calgary who just moved back. They couldn’t deal with the horrible weather, lower wages, and crazy housing market. Certain jobs are really hard to fill. Even new grad instrumentation positions the entire BCIT grad class was hired about 4 months before they graduated. Our rates are high for BC as well. 20-30K above the APEGBC salary survey for engineering jobs at around the P.Eng. level.

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