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Canadian Incomes Stagnated Even As Economy Grew In 2013, New StatsCan Data Shows

Incomes Stagnated Even As Economy Grew: StatsCan
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Canada’s economy expanded by 2 per cent in 2013, but new data from StatsCan shows wage earners saw virtually none of that reflected in their paycheques.

The median after-tax income of Canadian households was $53,500 in 2013, up by just $100 from 2012, according to StatsCan’s Canadian Income Survey.

Couples with children were among the few demographics to see a decline in after-tax incomes, down $400 in 2013 to $85,000 on average. Elderly couples also saw a small decline, to $51,900, from $52,200.

To the extent that there were any changes in income, inequality widened slightly. The top 10 per cent — or top decile — of earners saw their after-tax income rise on average by $100, to an average of $183,600.

By contrast, the bottom 10 per cent saw their average income shrink by the same amount, to $9,200 per year from $9,300 a year earlier.

“Based on adjusted after-tax income, Canadians in the highest decile accounted for 23.7 per cent of total after-tax income in Canada in 2013, while the lowest decile represented 2.5 per cent,” StatsCan said.

The survey also showed that people living alone, and only people living alone, saw a notable increase in taxes. Their median income tax bill rose from $2,100 to $2,400. There was no change in the tax burden for families.

On average, Canadian households received $5,300 in transfer payments from the government in 2013, unchanged from 2012. But families saw a slight increase in benefits — $7,000 versus $6,800 the year before. And the welfare state became a bit more generous to single moms as well, with female lone-parent families seeing benefits rise to $11,000, from $10,400.

Senior familes (aged 65 plus) had a median after-tax income of $52,500 in 2013, StatsCan said, compared with $77,100 for non-senior families. For senior singles, that number was $25,700, compared to $29,800 for non-senior singles.

No Comparisons Possible

It’s very difficult to see what the long-term trends are in Canadian incomes today, because there is no comparable data from before 2012. That’s because StatsCan cancelled its former Survey of Labour Income Dynamics (SLID) in 2012 and replaced it with the new Canadian Income Survey.

The new survey “uses a different methodology compared with that used in SLID, and until revised historical statistics are prepared ... the results of the CIS should not be compared with those produced by the SLID or other previous income surveys,” StatsCan warned in its report Wednesday.

Critics lay the blame for the move at the feet of the Harper government, which cancelled the mandatory long-form census and replaced it with a less reliable, voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) starting in 2011. Many StatsCan surveys are based on NHS results, and can't be statistically compared to earlier surveys based on census data.

But StatsCan says it will release revised income statistics “that will allow for the comparison of 2012 and 2013 data to earlier years” by the end of this year.

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