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2006 Census: Earnings, income and shelter costs

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The Daily

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Statistics Canada today releases detailed analysis of data from the 2006 Census on earnings and income.

This analysis is now available in the online document Earnings and Incomes of Canadians over the Past Quarter Century, 2006 Census.

Also available today are several tables containing 2006 Census data on shelter costs. Supplementing the 2006 Census data on dwelling characteristics released in September 2007, shelter cost information will provide a more detailed picture of housing in Canada. An analytical report on housing and shelter costs will be released on June 4, 2008.

Economic family counts refer to those enumerated on Census Day, May 16, 2006. All earnings and income results are for the full calendar year preceding the census. In the case of the 2006 Census, earnings and income data refer to 2005. All dollar figures are expressed in terms of their value, or purchasing power, in 2005. This is referred to in the report as "2005 constant dollars."

Economic family is defined as a group of two or more persons who live in the same dwelling and are related to each other by blood, marriage, common-law or adoption. A couple may be of opposite or same sex. For 2006, foster children are included.

Little change in earnings during past quarter century

Median earnings of Canadians employed on a full-time basis for a full year changed little during the past quarter century, edging up from $41,348 in 1980 to $41,401 in 2005 (in 2005 constant dollars).

Earnings of full-time full-year earners rose for those at the top of the earnings distribution, stagnated for those in the middle and declined for those at the bottom.

For the purpose of this analysis, full-time full-year earners were divided into five groups based on their employment income levels, each group representing one-fifth, or 20%, of the total number of workers.

Between 1980 and 2005, median earnings among the top 20% of full-time full-year earners increased by 16.4%. In contrast, median earnings among those in the bottom one-fifth of the distribution fell 20.6%. Median earnings among those in the middle 20% stagnated, increasing by only 0.1%.

The more rapid growth at the top of the earnings distribution has led to an increase in the proportion of high earners over the past quarter century.

In 1980, 3.4% of full-time full-year earners received $100,000 or more (in 2005 constant dollars). By 2005, this proportion had almost doubled to 6.5%. As a result, more than half a million individuals earned $100,000 or more in 2005.

During this 25-year period, recent immigrants lost ground relative to their Canadian-born counterparts.

In 1980, recent immigrant men who had some employment income earned 85 cents for each dollar received by Canadian-born men. By 2005, the ratio had dropped to 63 cents. The corresponding numbers for recent immigrant women were 85 cents and 56 cents, respectively.

Earnings disparities between recent immigrants and Canadian-born workers increased not only during the two previous decades, but also between 2000 and 2005.

Family earnings: Working couples with children had highest median earnings of all family types

Between 1980 and 2005, median earnings of economic families in which at least one partner, or the parent, was aged between 15 and 64 years increased by 9.3% to $63,715. Earnings increases were greater for families than for individuals, mainly due to the increasing participation of female partners in the labour market.

Working couples with children had the highest median earnings of all family types in 2005, an estimated $75,997, up 20.6% from 1980. For lone-parent families headed by women, median earnings rose 10.9% to $30,958. Their male counterparts had median earnings of $47,943, a drop of 8.5% since 1980.

Incomes of families: Couples with children on top rung of income ladder

Couples with children, once the dominant type of economic family, no longer comprise the majority of families. In 1981, couples with children accounted for 56.3% of all economic families with two or more people; by 2006, this proportion had declined to 46.2%.

In contrast, couples with no children accounted for 30.3% of the total in 1981; by 2006, their proportion had increased to 37.0%.

Although their share has declined, couples with children still have a higher median income than any other type of economic family. In 2005, their median income amounted to $82,943, up 21.6% from 1980, mostly due to the increase in the number of dual-earner families.

The median income for couples without children at home was $59,834, up 14.6% from 1980.

It is also possible to examine families in terms of age structure. Of the 3,252,990 couples without children at home in Canada, 24.8% were senior couples; that is, both partners were aged 65 and over. The median income of these senior couples was $45,674 in 2005, up 55.8% from 1980.

In 2006, the number of lone-parent families headed by women surpassed the 1-million mark, hitting 1,037,425. The 2006 Census also showed that 248,900 lone-parent families were headed by men, more than double the number in 1981.

Census data showed that the income gap between these two types of families narrowed slightly during the past 25 years.

The median income for lone-parent families headed by women in 2005 amounted to $36,765, still the lowest of all the major economic family types. However, this was 26.4% higher than it was in 1980. In contrast, the median income for lone-parent families headed by men declined 4.1% during this 25-year period, to $51,974.

Sources of income: Employment earnings account for four-fifths of income

For economic families as a whole, employment earnings represented the lion's share of income. Of every $100 of income received in 2005, employment earnings accounted for $78. Still, this was down from a quarter century earlier, when earnings accounted for almost $84.

In addition, government transfer payments, such as Old Age Security (OAS), Employment Insurance benefits, Child Benefits, and Goods and Services Tax credits, contributed $9.90 of every $100.00 in income in 2005.

Investment income represented $4.20 of every $100.00, while retirement income sources such as private pensions accounted for $5.90, more than double the level of only $2.30 in 1980.

This gain in the share of retirement income can be attributed to both an aging population and increases in the average amount per recipient.

After-tax income: First-time data from the census

For the first time, the census collected information on the after-tax income of Canadians, that is, total income from all sources minus income tax. After-tax income depicts in a better fashion what families have available to spend.

The median after-tax income of all economic families in 2005 was $57,178, compared with the total or pre-tax median income of $66,343.

The after-tax income gap between different types of families is smaller than the total income gap because after-tax income reflects the fact that people with higher incomes generally have a higher tax rate. For example, on an after-tax basis, lone-parent families headed by women had a median after tax income that was 49.1% of that received by couples with children, compared with 44.3% based on pre-tax income.

Also for the first time, the census can calculate low-income rates based on after-tax income.

Census data showed that 11.4% of the total population, an estimated 3,484,625 people, lived in low income in 2005 using after-tax income.

Of these people, an estimated 879,955 young people aged 17 years and under were living in low-income families in 2005.

Low-income rates are highest among children and young people. In 2005, 14.5% of all children aged 5 and under were part of a low-income family. The rate dropped to 13.0% for children aged 6 to 14, and to 11.4% for teens aged 15 to 17.

2006 Census sub-module

Also released today are various products and services available from the 2006 Census sub-module on our website. By clicking on the Release topics and dates link, then on Income and earnings, or Housing and shelter costs, users will find 2006 Census information on the income and earnings or shelter costs of the Canadian population.

The information on this web page is organized into four broad categories: Data products, Analysis series, Reference material and Geography.

The Data products category presents the income and earnings or shelter costs data for a wide range of standard geographic areas.

Data are available through the Income and earnings highlight tables, the Topic-based tabulations, the Profile release components, the 2006 Community Profiles and the Census tract profiles.

The Analysis series category presents the income and earnings analytical perspective report Earnings and Incomes of Canadians Over the Past Quarter Century, 2006 Census.

The Geography category presents thematic maps containing income and earnings data for standard geographic areas in Canada.

By using GeoSearch2006, an interactive mapping tool, users can find any area in Canada, as well as a corresponding map of the area with its population count. A large collection of supplementary geography reference material and maps is also available.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3901.

For more information, contact Media Relations (613-951-4636), Communications and Library Services Division.