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Income of Canadians, 2011

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Released: 2013-06-27

Median after-tax income for families of two or more people was $68,000 in 2011, virtually unchanged from 2010. This was the fourth consecutive year without significant change in after-tax income.

When comparing 2007 (the year prior to the recent economic downturn) to 2011, after-tax income increased from $66,700 to $68,000.

Two-parent families with children saw an increase in median after-tax income from $81,100 in 2010 to $83,600 in 2011. There was no significant change in the median income for other family types. The median after-tax income for non-senior families (those where the person with the highest income was younger than 65) was $73,300 in 2011, while for senior families it was $49,300. The median after-tax income for female lone-parent families was $39,900.

For the unattached, median after-tax income was $25,800 in 2011, unchanged from 2010. Among this group, non-seniors had a median income of $26,700, while seniors received $24,200.

Components of after-tax income

After-tax income is the total of market income and government transfers, less income tax. Market income consists of earnings, private pensions, income from investments and other sources such as support and disability payments.

Median market income for families with two or more people increased from $66,700 in 2010 to $68,400 in 2011.

Two-parent families with children saw an increase in the median market income, from $86,900 in 2010 to $91,000 in 2011. Senior families also saw an increase, from $24,300 in 2010 to $27,400 in 2011.

Among the unattached, median market income was $20,900 in 2011, unchanged from 2010. It was stable for both seniors ($9,000) and non-seniors ($26,600).

In 2011, almost 20 million people aged 16 and over received some form of government transfer, unchanged from 2010. This stability resulted from a decrease in the number of non-seniors receiving transfers (down 176,000 to 15.2 million) and an increase in the number of seniors receiving transfers (up 170,000 to 4.8 million).

The median amount of government transfers received by Canadian families decreased from $6,700 in 2010 to $6,000 in 2011. Both senior and non-senior families saw a decline of $600 in 2011 (to $25,500 for seniors and to $3,500 for non-seniors). Two-parent families also experienced a decrease in the median, down from $4,800 in 2010 to $3,900 in 2011.

For the unattached, non-seniors saw an increase in median government transfers from $600 in 2010 to $700 in 2011, while the median for seniors was unchanged at $16,200.

Among families of two persons or more, the median income tax paid increased from $8,500 in 2010 to $9,100 in 2011. Among two-parent families with children, the median income tax paid increased from $12,500 in 2010 to $14,000 in 2011.

Unlike families, median income tax paid by the unattached in 2011 was unchanged from 2010. The median amount paid by seniors was $100, while for non-seniors it was $3,000.

Incidence of low income

According to the after-tax low income cut-offs, 3 million Canadians, or 8.8% of the population, lived in low income in 2011, unchanged from 2010. This compares with 3.4 million Canadians, or 11.2% of the population in 2001. About 571,000 children aged 17 and under, or 8.5% lived in low income in 2011, also unchanged from 2010. For children in lone-parent families headed by a woman, the incidence was 23.0%, while for children living in two-parent families, the incidence was 5.9%, both unchanged from 2010.

Among those living alone, about 199,000 seniors (14.9%) and 1.2 million persons under the age of 65 (32.3%) lived in low income in 2011, unchanged from 2010.

Across the provinces

Alberta was the lone province where families of two persons or more saw a change in median after-tax income, increasing from $80,400 in 2010 to $83,800 in 2011. Among the unattached, Ontario was the lone province which experienced a change between 2010 and 2011, decreasing from $28,600 to $25,900.

Families in Alberta had the highest median after-tax income ($83,800), followed by Saskatchewan ($75,000), Ontario ($70,400) and British Columbia ($69,700).

  Note to readers

This release examines the income of families and unattached individuals, as well as low income in Canada. It is based on 2011 annual income information provided by the participants in the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. As estimates are based on probability samples, analyses throughout this report take into account the random aspect of the results. Consequently, two point estimates are not necessarily different although the numbers differ. To cope with sampling variability, differences between estimates are reported only where they are statistically significant at the 95% confidence interval.

This release largely analyses income on the basis of medians. The median is the level of income at which half of the population had higher income and half had lower. All income estimates are expressed in 2011 constant dollars to factor in inflation and enable comparisons across time in real terms.

While this analysis reports on low income solely on the basis of the after-tax low income cut-offs, the other lines (the Low Income Measure and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada's Market Basket Measure) are available in the Income Research Paper Series Low Income Lines 2011-2012 and low-income statistics based on each of the lines are available in CANSIM table 202-0801 to 202-0809.

This is the last data release from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. Starting with the 2012 reference year, cross-sectional income data will be available from the new Canadian Income Survey.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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