Small biz wages & employment bouncing back: QuickBooks Canada Survey

While small businesses continue to be faced with challenges as we head into 2022, new data from Intuit QuickBooks Canada shows that small business (SMB) wages and workforces have grown in almost all industries over the past 12 months.

Key findings on SMB wages and employment from QuickBooks Online Payroll data include:


  • Personal care (+5.5%), hospitality (+4.6%) and retail (+4.6%) industries have seen the most wage growth over the past 12 months
  • Mining & energy (-3.54%), professional services (+1.1%) have seen the least wage growth


  • Accounting & legal (+8.6%), retail (+5.5%) and education & public administration (+4.2%) have seen the most jobs growth over the past 12 months
  • Finance & real estate (-3.8%), personal care (+0.6%) and mining & energy (+0.8%) have seen the least jobs growth

For the full data set and findings from three recent surveys, including insights on SMB confidence, hiring difficulty, and inflation concerns visit here

Data Sources and Methodology

1. QuickBooks Online Payroll data

This is not survey data but anonymized, aggregate data from small businesses that use QuickBooks Online Payroll to manage their payroll between January, 2019 and November, 2021. Businesses that have used QuickBooks Online Payroll for less than two months were excluded from the dataset. All hourly wages are expressed as median values. Contractors and salaried employees were excluded from hourly wage calculations. Contractors and salaried employees are included in average employee calculations. Workforce growth rates are calculated by comparing the average number of paid employees per business for the current month against the average number of paid employees per business for the same month in the previous year (i.e. November 2021 vs November 2020). For example, if the average number of employees goes up from 5 to 6 from one period to the next, the increase is 20%. The data is not seasonally adjusted. The pre-pandemic benchmarks used in this report are from February 2020, the month prior to the first lockdowns being announced.

2. Small Business Survey

QuickBooks commissioned a 10-minute online survey among 725 small business owners in Canada from November 1 to 30, 2021. Respondents’ businesses have up to 100 employees and more than $5,000 in annual revenue. 57 of the 725 respondents answered the survey in French. More than one in three (34%) are brick-and-mortar businesses. The remainder are omni-channel, multi-channel or primarily online. Almost one in four (24%) are product-based businesses, close to one in two (45%) are service-based, and the remainder sell both products and services. Roughly one in seven (13%) are located in rural areas while the remainder are in urban or suburban locations. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest decimal place. Respondents received remuneration.

3. Employee Survey

Commissioned by QuickBooks in November 2021, Pollfish surveyed 2,500 employees aged 18+ throughout Canada, with a 50:50 split between male and female respondents. 500 of the 2,500 respondents answered the survey in French. Responses were collected via Pollfish’s audience pools and partner network using double opt-ins and random device engagement sampling methodology to ensure accurate targeting.

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