Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series
Wages for Young Workers up to the Age of 40

by René Morissette
Social Analysis and Modelling Division, Statistics Canada

Release date: May 29, 2018

Skip to text

Text begins

Abstract

This study compares the earnings trajectories of several recent cohorts of young workers with those of cohorts who entered the labour market in the late 1970s. The study combines three versions of Statistics Canada’s Longitudinal Worker file (LWF) and covers the 1978-to-2015 period. The main finding is that the degree of wage convergence that recent cohorts of young men have achieved relative to the 1978 cohort depends critically on which segments of the earnings distribution are considered. By the time they reached 40, young men who entered the labour market during the early 2000s and who were at the 75th or 90th percentile of the earnings distribution had higher annual wages than their counterparts who entered the labour market in the late 1970s. The opposite is true for young men who were at the 25th or 50th percentile of the earnings distribution. Hence, cross-cohort comparisons of age–earnings profiles of young men yield quite different conclusions, depending on the segment of the earnings distribution that is considered. In contrast, regardless of the segment of the earnings distribution considered, the annual wages at ages 39 to 40 and the cumulative annual wages generally increased across successive cohorts of young female employees.

Keywords: age–earnings profiles, earnings, youth, cohort analyses.

Executive summary

Over the last three decades, full-time jobs and permanent jobs have generally become scarcer for youth. In addition, median real hourly wages of young men employed in full-time jobs grew little, if at all, from the early 1980s to the mid-2010s. Along with other pieces of evidence from media reports, these facts have raised concerns that recent youth cohorts now experience less favourable earnings trajectories as they age than previous cohorts did 40 years ago.

Beaudry and Green (2000) examined this question for the first time in Canada several years ago. Using synthetic birth cohorts from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), they showed that cohorts of young Canadian men entering the labour market between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s had less favourable earnings trajectories than previous cohorts entering the labour market in the mid-1960s or early 1970s. In contrast, university-educated young women who entered the labour market in the early 1990s had more favourable age–earnings profiles than their counterparts who did so in the mid-1960s or early 1970s.

This article revisits the issue of wage convergence with previous cohorts using more recent data drawn from larger data sets than those used in the aforementioned studies. The study combines three versions of Statistics Canada’s Longitudinal Worker file (LWF) that cover the 1978-to-2015 period and measures the annual wages of young workers as they move from their late 20s to age 40.

Because of its large sample size, the LWF yields accurate measurements of annual wages and allows analyses that focus not only on median annual wages, but also on wages at the 10th, 25th, 75th, and 90th percentiles of the earnings distribution. This feature is particularly important in light of the growth in income inequality observed in Canada since the early 1980s.

The study finds the degree of wage convergence that recent cohorts of young men have achieved relative to the 1978 cohort depends critically on which segments of the earnings distribution are considered. By the time they reached 40, young men who entered the labour market during the early 2000s and who were at the 75th or 90th percentile of the earnings distribution had higher annual wages than their counterparts who entered the labour market in the late 1970s. The opposite is true for young men who were at the 25th or 50th percentile of the earnings distribution.

This finding has important implications. It indicates that previous results regarding the deterioration in entry-level wages of young men and the convergence (or lack thereof) of their wages with those of previous cohorts must be nuanced.

The story for young women is simpler. Regardless of the segment of the earnings distribution considered, the annual wages at ages 39 to 40 and the cumulative annual wages generally increased across successive cohorts of young female employees.

The results of the study are useful for a variety of reasons. First, they make it clear that, collectively, young men have experienced a diverse set of trends as they progressed in their career, depending on their position in the earnings distribution. As such, the results highlight the usefulness of large data sets that allow rigorous analyses at the tails of the earnings distribution. Second, the numbers provided in the study quantify the degree to which the growing involvement of young women in the labour market has increased their cumulative earnings over the last few decades. On both aspects, they help improve one’s understanding of the youth labour market.

1   Introduction

Changes in the employment prospects of youth and in their transitions to adulthood have attracted considerable attention over the last few years in Canada. Several studies have documented the evolution of wages, employment rates and job types of young men and women. Other research has shown that key life events such as schooling completion, leaving one’s parents’ home, marriage and family formation now occur later than they did in the 1970s.

One key finding from previous studies is that the youth labour market has changed along several dimensions since the mid-1970s. For young individuals not enrolled in school, full-time jobs have generally become scarcer than they were during the mid-1970s (Morissette, Hou and Schellenberg 2015). In addition, the percentage of full-time jobs that are permanent fell (Morissette 2016).Note 1 Third, median real hourly wages of young men employed in full-time jobs grew little, if at all, from the early 1980s to the mid-2010s.Note 2 Along with other pieces of evidence from media reports, these facts have raised concerns that recent youth cohorts now experience less favourable earnings trajectories as they age than previous cohorts did 40 years ago.

Beaudry and Green (2000) examined this question for the first time in Canada several years ago. Using synthetic birth cohorts from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), they showed that cohorts of young Canadian men entering the labour market between the mid-1980s and the early 1990s had less favourable earnings trajectories than previous cohorts entering the labour market in the mid-1960s or early 1970s.Note 3 In contrast, university-educated young women who entered the labour market in the early 1990s had more favourable age–earnings profiles than their counterparts who did so in the mid-1960s or early 1970s.Note 4

This article revisits the issue of wage convergence with previous cohorts using more recent data drawn from larger data sets than those used in the aforementioned studies. The study combines three versions of Statistics Canada’s Longitudinal Worker file (LWF) that cover the 1978-to-2015 period and measures the annual wages of young workers as they move from their late 20s to age 40.

The LWF uses records from the T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid to measure annual wages for a 10% random sample of Canadian workers.Note 5 Because of its large sample size, the LWF yields accurate measurements of annual wages and allows analyses that focus not only on median annual wages, but also on wages at the 10th, 25th, 75th, and 90th percentiles of the earnings distribution. This feature is particularly important in light of the growth in income inequality observed in Canada since the early 1980s (Lemieux and Riddell 2015).Note 6

As will be shown below, one key finding of the study is that cross-cohort comparisons of age–earnings profiles of young men yield quite different conclusions, depending on the segment of the earnings distribution that is considered. This finding has important implications. It indicates that previous results regarding the deterioration in entry-level wages of young men and the convergence (or lack thereof) of their wages with those of previous cohorts must be nuanced.

2   Background

To provide some context, Chart 1 shows the evolution of the median real annual wages and salaries of men aged 25 to 34 and those aged 35 to 44 over the 1965-to-2015 period.Note 7 After experiencing robust wage growth from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s, both groups of men saw their median wages fall from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s. The net result was that by 2015, median wages of men aged 25 to 34 were substantially lower than those of their counterparts of the same age in 1977. In contrast, the growth in earnings that men aged 35 to 44 experienced from the mid-1990s onwards brought back their earnings in 2015 to levels similar to the peaks observed in the late 1970s.

Because of changes in their occupational profile and movements towards full-time employment, women aged 25 to 34 and those aged 35 to 44 did not experience the same wage patterns. The median wages of women aged 35 to 44 grew steadily (Chart 2). By 2015, they earned more than twice as much as their counterparts did in the mid-1960s. Median wages of women aged 25 to 34 grew rapidly from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s but stagnated up until the late 1990s. They started rising again after 1997.

Chart 1

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1 Men aged 25 to 34 and Men aged 35 to 44, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Men aged 25 to 34 Men aged 35 to 44
2015 dollars
1965 37,392 40,580
1966 38,630 41,798
1967 39,869 43,016
1968 41,347 44,990
1969 42,826 46,964
1970 44,582 49,562
1971 46,339 52,160
1972 47,426 54,918
1973 48,628 55,597
1974 48,321 56,588
1975 50,396 57,804
1976 52,900 61,100
1977 51,800 60,300
1978 51,400 60,700
1979 50,600 58,800
1980 51,200 60,700
1981 49,900 58,800
1982 45,900 57,700
1983 44,100 56,700
1984 44,600 57,600
1985 44,200 59,100
1986 44,200 57,900
1987 44,000 58,500
1988 44,500 59,800
1989 43,200 58,500
1990 42,000 56,100
1991 39,800 54,300
1992 39,200 54,300
1993 39,900 52,800
1994 39,600 54,700
1995 38,500 53,200
1996 37,900 53,200
1997 39,200 52,200
1998 39,200 54,100
1999 41,500 54,700
2000 42,800 55,600
2001 41,300 55,500
2002 42,300 54,600
2003 42,600 54,000
2004 42,800 55,500
2005 42,000 55,000
2006 41,100 54,900
2007 41,100 56,600
2008 44,400 57,700
2009 42,000 57,300
2010 43,100 57,800
2011 44,200 59,100
2012 43,500 58,300
2013 42,300 56,000
2014 43,000 59,100
2015 43,700 59,300

Chart 2

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2 Women aged 25 to 34 and Women aged 35 to 44, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Women aged 25 to 34 Women aged 35 to 44
2015 dollars
1965 16,752 15,071
1966 17,588 16,443
1967 18,423 17,815
1968 19,410 18,547
1969 20,397 19,279
1970 21,575 19,768
1971 22,752 20,256
1972 22,326 20,875
1973 24,204 21,458
1974 25,127 23,295
1975 26,276 24,181
1976 26,500 24,300
1977 27,500 24,700
1978 27,000 25,200
1979 27,900 26,100
1980 28,500 25,900
1981 27,200 27,500
1982 27,700 26,000
1983 27,100 26,700
1984 27,100 28,400
1985 27,300 28,500
1986 27,900 28,900
1987 27,500 28,800
1988 26,800 29,500
1989 27,900 31,700
1990 26,500 30,300
1991 26,200 29,400
1992 27,000 31,300
1993 26,300 31,000
1994 25,900 31,000
1995 26,300 30,900
1996 26,500 31,300
1997 26,300 31,600
1998 27,100 32,500
1999 27,400 32,700
2000 27,300 33,200
2001 27,800 33,200
2002 28,200 33,000
2003 28,600 33,000
2004 29,000 32,600
2005 29,100 33,700
2006 30,600 33,700
2007 30,100 35,500
2008 30,800 35,000
2009 30,500 37,100
2010 30,700 38,000
2011 31,800 39,200
2012 29,000 37,800
2013 31,300 39,000
2014 29,400 41,100
2015 31,900 41,000

The drop in the real wages of young men that occurred from the early 1980s onwards varied markedly across segments of the earnings distribution. Median real annual wages of men aged 28 to 29 fell 27% from 1978 to 1996 (Chart 3 and Table 1). However, real annual wages of their counterparts at the 10th percentile of the earnings distribution fell 40%, more than four times the 9% drop observed for young men at the 90th percentile of the earnings distribution.

Chart 3

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3 10th percentile, 25th percentile, 50th percentile, 75th percentile and 90th percentile, calculated using index (1978=100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
10th percentile 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile 90th percentile
index (1978=100)
1978 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
1979 103.4 100.7 99.5 100.2 100.6
1980 99.5 96.8 98.7 99.9 100.6
1981 95.0 93.7 96.7 99.0 100.2
1982 76.4 80.1 91.0 96.2 98.3
1983 66.8 70.7 86.8 94.1 96.7
1984 68.1 72.1 86.7 94.7 97.5
1985 71.9 73.1 86.3 94.1 97.5
1986 70.9 72.3 84.6 92.6 96.4
1987 72.5 72.9 84.3 91.6 95.7
1988 77.2 75.0 85.2 92.3 96.3
1989 76.1 74.6 84.1 92.0 96.1
1990 72.0 69.8 81.6 90.0 94.1
1991 60.0 60.9 76.0 86.1 90.8
1992 56.4 57.4 74.9 86.3 91.7
1993 56.0 56.7 73.0 84.4 91.0
1994 58.9 58.6 72.9 84.8 91.7
1995 60.6 59.7 73.0 83.9 91.1
1996 59.5 59.9 72.6 83.7 90.8
1997 62.3 63.0 74.4 84.8 92.5
1998 64.8 64.9 76.0 86.6 95.4
1999 68.0 67.3 77.3 87.5 96.3
2000 70.2 70.0 79.4 89.4 98.9
2001 70.6 68.9 79.4 90.3 99.8
2002 69.7 68.4 78.7 89.8 99.8
2003 67.1 66.3 78.4 89.8 100.2
2004 65.9 65.9 78.3 90.4 100.3
2005 69.3 67.3 79.1 90.9 101.3
2006 71.6 69.3 80.5 92.7 103.4
2007 72.9 70.5 81.2 93.2 104.6
2008 74.6 71.8 82.2 94.9 106.8
2009 67.9 68.4 80.6 94.6 106.2
2010 69.0 67.2 79.8 94.7 106.7
2011 72.5 69.1 80.5 95.7 108.7
2012 75.0 71.9 83.1 98.5 112.3
2013 77.8 73.8 84.1 100.3 114.6
2014 79.5 73.9 84.1 100.3 116.5
2015 75.2 73.5 84.3 100.3 114.6

Chart 4

Data table for Chart 4
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4 10th percentile, 25th percentile, 50th percentile, 75th percentile and 90th percentile, calculated using index (1978=100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
10th percentile 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile 90th percentile
index (1978=100)
1978 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
1979 102.9 103.8 100.0 99.6 98.6
1980 101.2 104.2 101.1 100.5 99.6
1981 102.9 101.7 98.8 100.0 98.9
1982 101.1 101.6 98.7 100.2 99.8
1983 99.2 97.4 97.5 99.0 97.7
1984 101.4 99.2 96.7 98.6 97.8
1985 99.5 96.9 95.3 97.2 96.3
1986 99.1 95.4 93.9 96.5 95.8
1987 100.7 95.6 93.5 96.6 95.8
1988 105.8 99.5 95.0 97.4 96.7
1989 105.2 99.2 94.9 97.7 97.2
1990 105.7 98.8 94.9 98.7 98.5
1991 104.4 96.6 92.3 98.0 97.9
1992 107.8 100.7 94.4 100.4 101.1
1993 106.6 100.4 94.5 100.2 99.9
1994 104.6 101.6 95.3 100.0 100.0
1995 106.2 101.9 93.9 99.4 97.7
1996 108.1 101.4 93.1 99.4 97.4
1997 111.4 104.5 93.9 98.8 97.1
1998 115.0 107.7 95.2 100.7 100.1
1999 118.4 109.7 96.3 102.0 101.8
2000 120.8 110.6 98.5 105.2 104.3
2001 118.4 111.0 101.0 107.5 106.9
2002 113.9 108.1 99.3 107.1 107.3
2003 118.4 107.6 99.3 107.4 108.2
2004 116.8 107.4 99.9 107.5 109.1
2005 119.2 108.8 100.6 108.2 109.6
2006 116.9 111.1 103.1 110.8 112.0
2007 121.4 114.8 105.4 112.4 113.7
2008 124.9 116.3 107.2 114.4 116.1
2009 125.4 115.8 106.6 115.6 118.8
2010 126.0 117.2 106.0 114.5 118.1
2011 126.5 116.8 105.6 113.9 117.9
2012 126.4 117.5 106.2 114.0 118.3
2013 129.5 121.5 109.5 116.4 119.6
2014 132.4 121.5 109.2 116.6 119.9
2015 133.6 122.3 109.9 116.9 120.2

While wages of young men generally increased after 1996 (with 2008-2009 being a notable exception), the gains experienced by those in the bottom half of the earnings distribution did not offset the losses they experienced earlier. For example, median annual wages were 15% lower in 2015 than they were in 1978. Only young men at the 75th percentile of the earnings distribution ended up having similar wages in 2015 and 1978. In contrast, young men at the 90th percentile earned 15% more in 2015 than their counterparts did in 1978. Wages of young women displayed more favourable patterns. By 2015, young women in all segments of the earnings distribution―especially those at the 10th percentile―earned higher wages than their counterparts did in 1978 (Chart 4 and Table 2).

By the time the 1996 cohort of young men turned 39 or 40 years old (in 2007), had their annual wages converged to those of the 1978 cohort (measured in 1989) or were they still lower? Did annual wages of the 2004 cohort of young men, measured at ages 39 to 40 in 2015, eventually exceed those of the 1978 cohort? The next section answers these questions.

3   Wages up to the age of 40

To answer these questions, synthetic birth cohorts are constructed. The 1978 cohort consists of paid workers who were aged 28 to 29 in 1978. The 2004 cohort consists of their counterparts who were aged 28 to 29 in 2004. Ten other cohorts (aged 28 to 29 in 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002) are constructed (see Appendix for details).Note 8

Each of these 12 cohorts is tracked over a 12-year period, i.e., from ages 28 to 29 to ages 39 to 40. For example, the 1978 cohort is tracked from 1978 to 1989, at which point its members are aged 39 to 40. Likewise, the 2004 cohort is tracked from 2004 to 2015, the latest year for which LWF data are currently available.

It is important to note that the composition of individuals within a given cohort may change over time as some Canadian-born paid workers move in or out of the labour market, immigrate to other countries or die and as some immigrants enter or leave a given cohort of paid workers. Hence, the earnings trajectories obtained with these synthetic birth cohorts are not necessarily representative of those experienced by paid workers who were in the labour market for 12 consecutive years. Nevertheless, they provide valuable information. They measure the degree to which members of a given cohort of paid workers, taken collectively, fared well or not over a given 12-year period.Note 9

Table 3 and Chart 5 provide a first look at this issue. They show how median real annual wages of various cohorts of young male and female employees have evolved from ages 28 to 29 to ages 39 to 40.

Chart 5

Data table for Chart 5
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5 1978 cohort, 1996 cohort and 2004 cohort, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
1978 cohort 1996 cohort 2004 cohort
2015 dollars
28 to 29 49,861 36,213 39,026
29 to 30 51,554 39,364 41,563
30 to 31 52,951 42,054 44,321
31 to 32 53,408 44,307 46,575
32 to 33 52,462 46,486 48,603
33 to 34 52,845 47,632 49,515
34 to 35 54,737 48,183 50,966
35 to 36 56,080 49,261 52,589
36 to 37 56,756 50,684 54,757
37 to 38 57,524 52,043 56,553
38 to 39 59,597 53,583 57,948
39 to 40 59,916 54,717 58,699

Chart 6

Data table for Chart 6
Data table for Chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 6 1978 cohort, 1996 cohort and 2004 cohort, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
1978 cohort 1996 cohort 2004 cohort
2015 dollars
28 to 29 31,395 18,809 20,677
29 to 30 33,533 21,084 22,898
30 to 31 34,435 23,541 24,896
31 to 32 34,680 25,026 26,434
32 to 33 31,658 26,859 28,021
33 to 34 30,847 27,376 27,856
34 to 35 32,516 27,828 28,985
35 to 36 34,266 28,188 30,361
36 to 37 35,066 29,334 31,748
37 to 38 36,021 30,415 32,563
38 to 39 37,883 31,563 33,764
39 to 40 37,833 32,228 34,000

Most of the numbers shown in Table 3 for young men can be summarized by Chart 5. Young men who entered the labour market in 1996 had, at ages 28 to 29, lower median annual wages than their counterparts in 1978. While wages of the 1996 cohort grew over time, they had not converged to those of the 1978 cohort by the time both cohorts were aged 39 to 40. In contrast, the median annual wages of young men who entered the workforce in 2004 had almost fully converged to those of the 1978 cohort at ages 39 to 40.

More generally, young men who entered the labour market after 1978 earned less than the 1978 cohort not only at ages 28 to 29 but also at ages 39 to 40. However, the difference was smaller for the 2002 and 2004 cohorts than it was for previous cohorts. As a result, median cumulative earnings over the first 12 years in the workforce were lower for the cohorts that entered the labour market after 1978. For example, median cumulative earnings of young men who entered the workforce from 1990 to 1996 were 15% lower than those of the 1978 cohort. In contrast, the 2002 and 2004 cohorts of young men had median cumulative earnings that were about 10% lower than those of the 1978 cohort.

Similar qualitative patterns are observed in Table 4 when the focus is on wages at the 10th percentile and in Table 5 and Chart 6 when the focus is on wages at the 25th percentile.Note 10 Cumulative earnings at the 25th percentile for young men who entered the workforce from 1990 to 1996 were 21% to 24% lower than those of young men who entered the workforce in 1978. The corresponding declines for the 2002 and 2004 cohorts varied between 17% and 18%.

In sum, young men who were in the lower half of the earnings distribution and belonged to the 1984-to-2004 cohorts had lower annual wages at ages 28 to 29 and ages 39 to 40 than their counterparts who were members of the 1978 cohort. As a result, their cumulative earnings were also lower.

A different story is observed in the upper half of the earnings distribution. Considering young men in the 75th percentile of the earnings distribution, those in the 1984-to-2004 cohorts had lower annual wages at ages 28 to 29 than their counterparts in the 1978 cohort. However, by the time they reached ages 39 to 40, young men in the 2002 and 2004 cohorts earned almost $8,000 more than those in the 1978 cohort (Table 6 and Chart 7). In fact, cumulative earnings of young men at the 75th percentile were 2% to 4% higher for the 2002 and 2004 cohorts than they were for the 1978 cohort.

Numbers at the 90th percentile provide an even sharper contrast. In this case, wages at ages 28 to 29 were roughly the same for members of the 2002 and 2004 cohorts and those of the 1978 cohort (Table 7). Because annual wages subsequently grew faster for the 2002 and 2004 cohorts than they did for the 1978 cohort, members of the 2002 and 2004 cohorts ended up, by the time they reached ages 39 to 40, earning roughly $20,000 more than their counterparts in the 1978 cohort (Chart 8). As a result, the more recent cohorts had cumulative earnings that were 12% to 15% higher than those of the 1978 cohort.

Taken together, Tables 3 to 7 and Charts 5 to 8 highlight an important finding: cross-cohort comparisons of age–earnings profiles of young men yield quite different conclusions, depending on the segment of the earnings distribution that is considered. Recent cohorts of young men―those aged 28 to 29 in 2002 or 2004―had lower cumulative earnings than those in the 1978 cohort at the 10th, 25th or 50th percentile but had higher cumulative earnings when the focus is on the 75th and 90th percentile.Note 11 Hence, while some young men are faring worse in the labour market than their counterparts did in the late 1970s, others are faring better.

On average, the 2002 and 2004 cohorts of young men earned more when they reached the ages of 39 and 40, than their counterparts did in the 1978 cohort (Table 8 and Chart 9). They also had higher average cumulative earnings. In contrast, the 1984-to-1998 cohorts earned less, on average, on a cumulative basis than the 1978 cohort.

The story for young women is simpler. Regardless of the segment of the earnings distribution considered, the annual wages at ages 39 to 40 and the cumulative annual wages generally increased across successive cohorts of young female employees.

There are several reasons why the cumulative earnings of young female employees evolved more favorably than those of their male counterparts since the mid- to late 1970s. First, young women increased their educational attainment―and thus, their ability to hold highly paid jobs―faster than young men over the last four decades. Second, as they became more career-oriented than previous generations, women aged 25 and over moved away from part-time jobs and increased their tenure with their employers since the mid-1970s. Both of these factors tended to increase their annual wages. Third, young women moved to better paid occupations, increasing their presence in fields of study such as business, life sciences and social sciences.

Chart 7

Data table for Chart 7
Data table for Chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 7 1978 cohort, 1996 cohort and 2004 cohort, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
1978 cohort 1996 cohort 2004 cohort
2015 dollars
28 to 29 64,274 53,794 58,104
29 to 30 66,597 57,075 62,066
30 to 31 68,707 60,531 65,641
31 to 32 70,359 63,901 69,237
32 to 33 70,345 67,139 72,594
33 to 34 71,108 69,231 74,716
34 to 35 73,372 70,915 77,115
35 to 36 74,838 72,719 79,667
36 to 37 76,074 75,117 83,221
37 to 38 77,117 77,776 86,297
38 to 39 80,412 80,278 88,137
39 to 40 81,320 82,308 89,229

Chart 8

Data table for Chart 8
Data table for Chart 8
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 8 1978 cohort, 1996 cohort and 2004 cohort, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
1978 cohort 1996 cohort 2004 cohort
2015 dollars
28 to 29 77,518 70,420 77,745
29 to 30 80,325 75,275 83,589
30 to 31 83,389 80,389 89,033
31 to 32 85,656 85,138 94,131
32 to 33 86,435 89,906 99,483
33 to 34 87,732 94,364 101,778
34 to 35 90,127 96,326 105,955
35 to 36 92,576 98,608 109,182
36 to 37 94,449 102,779 114,520
37 to 38 96,312 106,478 119,243
38 to 39 102,553 111,003 122,154
39 to 40 103,408 114,255 123,756

Chart 9

Data table for Chart 9
Data table for Chart 9
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 9 1978 cohort, 1996 cohort and 2004 cohort, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
1978 cohort 1996 cohort 2004 cohort
2015 dollars
28 to 29 48,524 38,733 42,444
29 to 30 50,571 41,965 45,992
30 to 31 52,377 45,429 49,546
31 to 32 53,365 48,502 52,418
32 to 33 52,469 52,218 55,430
33 to 34 52,756 54,218 56,661
34 to 35 54,917 55,170 58,875
35 to 36 56,872 56,578 61,271
36 to 37 57,981 58,706 64,514
37 to 38 59,640 61,112 66,706
38 to 39 62,974 63,887 68,852
39 to 40 63,869 66,180 69,757

4   Wages up to the age of 34

Because the results shown so far are based on tracking several cohorts over periods of 12 years, the most recent cohort that has been considered was aged 28 to 29 in 2004. To allow analyses that involve more recent cohorts, cohorts of paid workers are now followed over a shorter period, i.e., over 6 years. This allows a comparison of the 2010 cohort with previous cohorts. For compactness, only median and average cumulative earnings are considered.

The results show that the 2010 cohort of young men had, from ages 28 to 29 to ages 33 to 34, 12% lower median cumulative earnings than the 1978 cohort (Table 9 and Chart 10). However, average cumulative earnings of the 2010 cohort were slightly higher than those of the 1978 cohort, reflecting growing earnings dispersion across cohorts. In contrast, both average and median cumulative earnings of the 2010 cohort of young women are higher than those of their counterparts in the 1978 cohort (Chart 11).

Chart 10

Data table for Chart 10
Data table for Chart 10
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 10 Median and Average, calculated using number units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Median Average
ratio
1980 0.971 0.970
1982 0.933 0.942
1984 0.912 0.936
1986 0.886 0.919
1988 0.859 0.897
1990 0.819 0.866
1992 0.799 0.861
1994 0.803 0.883
1996 0.818 0.906
1998 0.833 0.931
2000 0.844 0.951
2002 0.855 0.962
2004 0.861 0.976
2006 0.872 0.992
2008 0.873 0.994
2010 0.883 1.015

Chart 11

Data table for Chart 11
Data table for Chart 11
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 11 Median and Average, calculated using number units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Median Average
ratio
1980 1.004 1.001
1982 0.993 0.996
1984 0.991 0.997
1986 0.973 0.990
1988 0.987 1.008
1990 0.989 1.015
1992 0.997 1.028
1994 1.019 1.052
1996 1.035 1.077
1998 1.037 1.098
2000 1.045 1.114
2002 1.068 1.137
2004 1.100 1.168
2006 1.133 1.206
2008 1.152 1.221
2010 1.157 1.232

5   Conclusion

While it is well known that real wages of young men fell during the 1980s and 1990s, it was unclear whether the wages of cohorts that entered the labour market during the early 2000s eventually converged to those of earlier cohorts. Using data from Statistics Canada’s Longitudinal Worker File, this study fills this gap.

The main finding is that the degree of wage convergence that recent cohorts of young men have achieved relative to the 1978 cohort depends critically on which segments of the earnings distribution are considered. By the time they reached 40, young men who entered the labour market during the early 2000s and who were at the 75th or 90th percentile of the earnings distribution had higher annual wages than their counterparts who entered the labour market in the late 1970s. The opposite is true for young men who were at the 25th or 50th percentile of the earnings distribution.

A few limitations must be noted. Because the LWF contains no data on educational attainment or immigration status, no disaggregation was performed by workers’ education level or immigration status. Hence, it was not possible to compare the evolution of the age–earnings profiles of highly educated young workers with that of their less educated counterparts.

Because the LWF starts in 1978, earnings trajectories of cohorts that entered the labour market during the 2000s could not be compared with those of their counterparts who entered the workforce during the mid-1960s or early 1970s. As Chart 1 suggests, it is conceivable that the late 1970s represented a relatively short-lived ‘golden era’ for labour market entry.Note 12 This possibility implies that the computation of unemployment-adjusted earnings trajectories would be a worthwhile exercise for future research.

Nevertheless, the results are useful for a variety of reasons. First, they make it clear that, collectively, young men have experienced a diverse set of trends as they progressed in their career, depending on their position in the earnings distribution. As such, the results highlight the usefulness of large data sets that allow rigorous analyses at the tails of the earnings distribution. Second, they quantify the degree to which the growing involvement of young women in the labour market has increased their cumulative earnings over the last few decades. On both aspects, they help improve one’s understanding of youth labour market.

6   Tables

Table 1
Real annual wages of men aged 28 to 29, at selected percentiles, 1978 to 2015 Table summary
This table displays the results of Real annual wages of men aged 28 to 29. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Percentile, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Percentile
10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
2015 dollars
1978 12,717 31,395 49,861 64,274 77,518
1979 13,153 31,604 49,618 64,428 77,945
1980 12,649 30,383 49,236 64,231 77,990
1981 12,082 29,421 48,229 63,619 77,694
1982 9,714 25,163 45,365 61,861 76,207
1983 8,490 22,203 43,256 60,503 74,923
1984 8,663 22,634 43,222 60,860 75,603
1985 9,146 22,941 43,010 60,469 75,605
1986 9,013 22,683 42,177 59,508 74,730
1987 9,225 22,873 42,051 58,874 74,153
1988 9,823 23,549 42,472 59,315 74,649
1989 9,673 23,420 41,955 59,108 74,533
1990 9,159 21,905 40,683 57,819 72,958
1991 7,628 19,128 37,910 55,343 70,390
1992 7,174 18,034 37,355 55,464 71,105
1993 7,127 17,786 36,387 54,231 70,535
1994 7,491 18,396 36,355 54,473 71,103
1995 7,709 18,743 36,381 53,906 70,603
1996 7,565 18,809 36,213 53,794 70,420
1997 7,925 19,785 37,098 54,504 71,732
1998 8,246 20,382 37,912 55,671 73,917
1999 8,648 21,134 38,563 56,223 74,631
2000 8,928 21,989 39,597 57,432 76,659
2001 8,974 21,628 39,575 58,040 77,354
2002 8,867 21,459 39,251 57,689 77,331
2003 8,537 20,824 39,090 57,721 77,709
2004 8,383 20,677 39,026 58,104 77,745
2005 8,817 21,116 39,460 58,449 78,510
2006 9,106 21,747 40,130 59,595 80,186
2007 9,272 22,133 40,468 59,932 81,106
2008 9,482 22,531 40,971 61,002 82,764
2009 8,640 21,470 40,186 60,834 82,336
2010 8,775 21,100 39,790 60,884 82,700
2011 9,220 21,688 40,153 61,482 84,276
2012 9,535 22,576 41,412 63,319 87,062
2013 9,890 23,184 41,921 64,490 88,823
2014 10,112 23,210 41,920 64,446 90,319
2015 9,558 23,089 42,047 64,437 88,853
Table 2
Real annual wages of women aged 28 to 29, at selected percentiles, 1978 to 2015 Table summary
This table displays the results of Real annual wages of women aged 28 to 29. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Percentile, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Percentile
10th 25th 50th 75th 90th
2015 dollars
1978 4,776 12,640 28,578 42,522 57,051
1979 4,914 13,119 28,564 42,348 56,256
1980 4,835 13,167 28,878 42,734 56,810
1981 4,915 12,859 28,241 42,523 56,429
1982 4,830 12,837 28,211 42,591 56,912
1983 4,737 12,313 27,850 42,101 55,762
1984 4,843 12,543 27,629 41,930 55,802
1985 4,749 12,243 27,232 41,346 54,937
1986 4,731 12,054 26,824 41,032 54,672
1987 4,808 12,087 26,730 41,072 54,670
1988 5,051 12,577 27,154 41,432 55,178
1989 5,022 12,533 27,122 41,560 55,435
1990 5,046 12,492 27,114 41,954 56,167
1991 4,984 12,210 26,386 41,668 55,880
1992 5,150 12,723 26,977 42,700 57,651
1993 5,092 12,693 27,017 42,620 56,994
1994 4,998 12,846 27,224 42,514 57,035
1995 5,071 12,877 26,833 42,284 55,714
1996 5,164 12,812 26,602 42,278 55,593
1997 5,322 13,206 26,833 42,013 55,371
1998 5,490 13,618 27,218 42,828 57,095
1999 5,653 13,861 27,525 43,389 58,062
2000 5,770 13,984 28,136 44,715 59,503
2001 5,654 14,027 28,870 45,696 60,969
2002 5,440 13,670 28,389 45,541 61,235
2003 5,656 13,596 28,374 45,683 61,742
2004 5,580 13,581 28,546 45,713 62,231
2005 5,694 13,749 28,748 46,016 62,529
2006 5,585 14,047 29,470 47,119 63,884
2007 5,797 14,506 30,118 47,788 64,882
2008 5,966 14,705 30,624 48,632 66,227
2009 5,989 14,641 30,461 49,149 67,753
2010 6,016 14,817 30,298 48,700 67,358
2011 6,040 14,762 30,164 48,442 67,243
2012 6,035 14,847 30,352 48,492 67,478
2013 6,186 15,360 31,298 49,485 68,223
2014 6,325 15,352 31,220 49,577 68,416
2015 6,381 15,462 31,420 49,702 68,603
Table 3
Median real annual wages of young men and women, from ages 28 to 29 to ages 39 to 40, selected cohorts
Table summary
This table displays the results of Median real annual wages of young men and women Ages, Cumulative earnings, 28 to 29, 29 to 30, 30 to 31, 31 to 32, 32 to 33, 33 to 34, 34 to 35, 35 to 36, 36 to 37, 37 to 38, 38 to 39 and 39 to 40, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Ages Cumulative earnings
28 to 29 29 to 30 30 to 31 31 to 32 32 to 33 33 to 34 34 to 35 35 to 36 36 to 37 37 to 38 38 to 39 39 to 40
2015 dollars
Cohort of young men
1978 49,861 51,554 52,951 53,408 52,462 52,845 54,737 56,080 56,756 57,524 59,597 59,916 657,689
1984 43,222 45,249 46,671 48,453 50,425 51,416 51,291 50,299 51,731 51,885 53,251 53,678 597,572
1986 42,177 44,362 46,783 48,254 48,397 47,543 48,771 49,350 51,043 51,661 52,227 53,121 583,688
1988 42,472 44,470 45,267 44,562 45,813 46,449 48,352 49,299 50,310 51,312 52,728 53,796 574,833
1990 40,683 40,176 41,656 42,815 44,817 46,168 47,303 48,825 50,512 51,534 52,645 53,093 560,227
1992 37,355 38,601 41,217 42,772 44,224 46,110 47,839 49,470 50,786 51,601 52,057 52,490 554,521
1994 36,355 38,668 40,699 42,925 45,460 47,294 48,840 49,677 50,563 51,021 52,378 53,373 557,251
1996 36,213 39,364 42,054 44,307 46,486 47,632 48,183 49,261 50,684 52,043 53,583 54,717 564,527
1998 37,912 40,822 43,449 45,114 46,254 47,368 48,915 50,605 52,265 53,825 55,295 55,329 577,152
2000 39,597 41,719 43,241 44,675 46,609 48,413 50,584 52,241 53,804 53,613 55,034 56,168 585,698
2002 39,251 41,534 43,428 45,713 47,822 50,060 51,884 51,694 53,524 55,093 56,470 58,216 594,689
2004 39,026 41,563 44,321 46,575 48,603 49,515 50,966 52,589 54,757 56,553 57,948 58,699 601,114
Cohort of young women
1978 28,578 28,230 28,375 28,110 28,763 29,074 29,100 29,660 30,064 30,646 32,113 32,507 355,221
1984 27,629 27,749 27,911 28,062 28,795 29,385 29,747 29,911 31,613 31,858 32,928 33,344 358,931
1986 26,824 27,235 27,672 27,989 28,372 28,452 30,053 30,652 31,424 31,880 32,382 33,194 356,129
1988 27,154 27,449 27,892 27,672 29,123 29,604 30,338 30,809 31,479 32,208 33,293 34,160 361,181
1990 27,114 26,693 27,658 28,512 29,385 29,888 30,213 30,915 31,934 32,842 33,501 33,998 362,654
1992 26,977 27,395 28,129 28,654 29,295 30,240 31,346 32,276 32,809 33,632 33,876 34,809 369,437
1994 27,224 27,554 28,480 29,394 30,460 31,228 32,164 32,750 32,986 33,720 34,873 35,724 376,557
1996 26,602 28,009 29,118 30,235 31,161 31,917 31,853 32,709 33,681 34,404 35,765 37,367 382,821
1998 27,218 28,641 29,876 30,442 30,198 31,110 31,820 32,960 34,556 35,978 37,405 38,706 388,912
2000 28,136 29,394 29,223 29,752 30,682 31,665 33,003 34,377 35,870 37,420 38,122 38,866 396,511
2002 28,389 28,844 29,866 30,663 31,765 33,263 34,618 35,896 37,033 37,812 38,965 40,407 407,522
2004 28,546 29,656 30,563 31,935 33,038 34,527 35,259 36,310 37,560 39,076 40,174 41,308 417,951
Table 4
Real annual wages of young men and women at the 10th percentile, from ages 28 to 29 to ages 39 to 40, selected cohorts
Table summary
This table displays the results of Real annual wages of young men and women at the 10th percentile Ages, Cumulative earnings, 28 to 29, 29 to 30, 30 to 31, 31 to 32, 32 to 33, 33 to 34, 34 to 35, 35 to 36, 36 to 37, 37 to 38, 38 to 39 and 39 to 40, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Ages Cumulative earnings
28 to 29 29 to 30 30 to 31 31 to 32 32 to 33 33 to 34 34 to 35 35 to 36 36 to 37 37 to 38 38 to 39 39 to 40
2015 dollars
Cohort of young men
1978 12,717 14,441 15,036 14,971 12,649 11,994 12,668 13,755 14,085 14,496 15,784 15,766 168,362
1984 8,663 9,618 10,309 11,102 11,921 12,405 12,320 10,730 10,794 10,960 12,216 12,693 133,732
1986 9,013 9,768 10,748 11,490 11,375 10,075 9,927 10,342 11,242 11,649 12,265 13,067 130,960
1988 9,823 10,311 10,388 9,552 9,506 9,720 10,425 11,139 11,414 12,415 13,327 13,834 131,854
1990 9,159 8,133 8,092 8,509 9,666 10,248 10,772 11,274 12,438 13,055 13,541 13,992 128,878
1992 7,174 7,460 8,427 9,070 9,638 10,608 11,233 12,120 12,722 13,088 13,263 13,293 128,097
1994 7,491 8,258 8,700 9,751 10,753 11,089 12,131 12,300 12,621 12,802 13,123 13,669 132,687
1996 7,565 8,403 9,390 10,257 11,231 11,263 11,457 11,491 12,092 12,563 13,325 13,749 132,786
1998 8,246 9,076 10,336 10,377 10,847 11,043 11,469 12,126 12,959 13,625 13,980 13,038 137,124
2000 8,928 9,429 9,827 10,374 11,105 11,660 12,607 13,072 13,697 12,688 13,245 14,160 140,794
2002 8,867 9,053 9,735 10,644 11,726 12,234 12,628 11,898 13,040 14,211 14,721 15,011 143,767
2004 8,383 9,609 10,492 11,184 11,940 11,620 12,212 13,344 14,242 14,433 15,370 15,381 148,211
Cohort of young women
1978 4,776 4,710 4,658 4,814 5,025 4,952 5,059 5,254 5,502 5,456 6,263 6,638 63,107
1984 4,843 4,806 4,884 5,052 5,338 5,541 5,749 5,583 5,921 6,307 6,319 6,601 66,944
1986 4,731 4,862 4,968 5,228 5,348 5,258 5,698 5,755 6,134 6,298 6,368 6,773 67,421
1988 5,051 5,052 5,253 5,090 5,414 5,455 5,673 5,957 5,985 6,403 6,938 7,459 69,730
1990 5,046 4,939 5,093 5,324 5,426 5,635 5,723 6,039 6,404 6,852 7,120 7,476 71,077
1992 5,150 5,224 5,327 5,470 5,595 6,012 6,379 6,487 6,836 7,041 7,025 7,728 74,272
1994 4,998 5,240 5,386 5,792 5,965 6,194 6,330 6,670 6,816 7,058 7,432 7,829 75,710
1996 5,164 5,476 5,843 6,112 6,295 6,362 6,163 6,404 6,808 7,336 7,700 8,118 77,781
1998 5,490 5,785 5,988 5,833 5,822 6,243 6,259 6,487 6,989 7,457 8,078 8,476 78,905
2000 5,770 5,623 5,490 5,829 5,967 6,183 6,576 6,805 7,198 7,857 8,280 8,711 80,289
2002 5,440 5,585 5,640 5,825 6,179 6,451 6,754 7,089 7,607 8,109 8,676 9,279 82,633
2004 5,580 5,817 5,925 6,088 6,496 6,723 7,121 7,710 7,929 8,568 8,754 9,523 86,234
Table 5
Real annual wages of young men and women at the 25th percentile, from ages 28 to 29 to ages 39 to 40, selected cohorts
Table summary
This table displays the results of Real annual wages of young men and women at the 25th percentile Ages, Cumulative earnings, 28 to 29, 29 to 30, 30 to 31, 31 to 32, 32 to 33, 33 to 34, 34 to 35, 35 to 36, 36 to 37, 37 to 38, 38 to 39 and 39 to 40, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Ages Cumulative earnings
28 to 29 29 to 30 30 to 31 31 to 32 32 to 33 33 to 34 34 to 35 35 to 36 36 to 37 37 to 38 38 to 39 39 to 40
2015 dollars
Cohort of young men
1978 31,395 33,533 34,435 34,680 31,658 30,847 32,516 34,266 35,066 36,021 37,883 37,833 410,132
1984 22,634 24,512 25,861 27,650 29,372 30,318 29,906 28,164 28,377 28,806 30,204 30,934 336,737
1986 22,683 24,499 26,643 27,860 27,854 26,096 26,325 26,795 28,203 29,380 29,854 31,232 327,424
1988 23,549 25,250 25,391 23,858 24,133 24,970 26,407 27,706 28,566 29,649 31,251 32,479 323,208
1990 21,905 20,738 20,981 22,156 23,973 25,586 26,528 27,902 29,344 30,602 31,612 31,976 313,302
1992 18,034 19,265 21,453 22,966 24,158 26,086 27,640 28,969 30,328 30,792 31,021 31,019 311,731
1994 18,396 20,197 21,515 23,857 25,937 27,250 28,614 29,205 29,638 30,027 30,905 31,671 317,212
1996 18,809 21,084 23,541 25,026 26,859 27,376 27,828 28,188 29,334 30,415 31,563 32,228 322,251
1998 20,382 22,725 24,651 25,482 26,035 26,875 28,024 29,083 30,293 31,438 32,424 31,705 329,118
2000 21,989 23,339 24,135 24,904 26,386 27,973 29,220 30,657 31,527 30,234 31,647 32,320 334,332
2002 21,459 22,359 23,975 25,652 27,209 28,800 29,815 28,780 30,730 31,773 33,073 33,780 337,405
2004 20,677 22,898 24,896 26,434 28,021 27,856 28,985 30,361 31,748 32,563 33,764 34,000 342,203
Cohort of young women
1978 12,640 12,686 12,738 12,934 13,206 13,121 13,325 13,769 14,127 14,335 15,822 16,357 165,060
1984 12,543 12,364 12,513 12,925 13,303 13,735 14,080 14,184 14,855 15,292 15,986 16,568 168,348
1986 12,054 12,220 12,687 13,123 13,172 13,225 14,155 14,402 14,873 15,559 15,965 16,745 168,181
1988 12,577 12,641 12,959 12,876 13,451 13,652 14,278 14,750 14,897 15,703 16,762 17,703 172,249
1990 12,492 12,258 12,726 13,223 13,684 14,136 14,285 14,902 15,665 16,353 17,290 17,588 174,602
1992 12,723 12,953 13,348 13,615 13,986 14,733 15,498 16,142 16,767 17,091 17,242 18,049 182,145
1994 12,846 13,192 13,678 14,191 15,055 15,436 15,925 16,398 16,772 17,206 17,953 18,688 187,339
1996 12,812 13,660 14,421 15,166 15,415 15,777 15,395 15,944 16,593 17,472 18,424 19,596 190,677
1998 13,618 14,309 15,000 14,837 14,651 15,175 15,643 16,407 17,464 18,430 19,516 20,141 195,192
2000 13,984 14,217 13,684 14,389 14,713 15,608 16,265 17,143 17,963 19,322 19,829 20,904 198,021
2002 13,670 13,702 14,222 14,772 15,611 16,467 17,303 17,982 18,853 19,808 20,809 21,936 205,136
2004 13,581 14,198 14,846 15,370 16,310 16,860 17,646 18,745 19,610 20,619 21,299 22,376 211,460
Table 6
Real annual wages of young men and women at the 75th percentile, from ages 28 to 29 to ages 39 to 40, selected cohorts
Table summary
This table displays the results of Real annual wages of young men and women at the 75th percentile Ages, Cumulative earnings, 28 to 29, 29 to 30, 30 to 31, 31 to 32, 32 to 33, 33 to 34, 34 to 35, 35 to 36, 36 to 37, 37 to 38, 38 to 39 and 39 to 40, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Ages Cumulative earnings
28 to 29 29 to 30 30 to 31 31 to 32 32 to 33 33 to 34 34 to 35 35 to 36 36 to 37 37 to 38 38 to 39 39 to 40
2015 dollars
Cohort of young men
1978 64,274 66,597 68,707 70,359 70,345 71,108 73,372 74,838 76,074 77,117 80,412 81,320 874,525
1984 60,860 63,110 64,595 66,412 68,797 70,392 70,598 70,467 72,488 73,191 75,150 75,761 831,822
1986 59,508 61,601 64,347 66,210 66,920 66,744 69,040 69,815 72,193 73,251 74,424 76,614 820,668
1988 59,315 61,881 63,018 62,994 65,178 66,192 68,871 70,260 71,547 73,696 75,750 77,472 816,173
1990 57,819 58,072 60,445 61,839 64,372 66,153 67,628 70,119 72,401 74,345 76,294 77,410 806,896
1992 55,464 56,798 59,529 61,482 63,441 66,168 68,842 71,363 73,643 74,899 76,169 77,480 805,278
1994 54,473 56,685 59,508 62,432 65,532 68,138 70,848 72,589 74,492 75,738 77,637 79,757 817,830
1996 53,794 57,075 60,531 63,901 67,139 69,231 70,915 72,719 75,117 77,776 80,278 82,308 830,784
1998 55,671 59,503 63,037 65,710 67,791 69,753 72,313 75,355 78,228 80,704 83,179 84,359 855,603
2000 57,432 60,874 63,437 65,649 68,377 71,549 74,877 78,113 80,984 82,084 83,866 85,348 872,589
2002 57,689 60,720 63,724 67,201 70,922 74,054 77,593 78,795 81,229 83,348 86,342 89,103 890,720
2004 58,104 62,066 65,641 69,237 72,594 74,716 77,115 79,667 83,221 86,297 88,137 89,229 906,023
Cohort of young women
1978 42,522 42,807 43,750 43,732 44,779 45,118 45,752 46,060 47,090 47,485 48,846 49,709 547,650
1984 41,930 42,490 42,901 43,476 44,343 45,269 46,454 46,384 48,657 49,003 50,258 50,507 551,672
1986 41,032 41,910 42,757 43,591 44,514 44,599 46,874 47,376 48,437 48,918 49,426 50,366 549,799
1988 41,432 42,477 43,607 43,937 46,117 46,327 47,507 48,109 48,661 49,646 50,941 52,371 561,132
1990 41,954 42,379 44,223 44,762 46,030 46,706 47,262 48,378 49,849 50,893 52,474 52,474 567,385
1992 42,700 43,260 44,365 44,869 45,612 47,080 48,532 49,702 51,325 51,854 52,843 53,735 575,878
1994 42,514 43,356 44,404 45,597 47,241 48,897 50,737 51,151 52,001 52,907 54,405 55,653 588,865
1996 42,278 43,608 45,460 47,209 49,127 50,008 50,492 51,622 52,992 54,405 56,393 58,432 602,025
1998 42,828 44,974 47,070 48,182 48,837 49,940 51,266 52,734 55,195 57,225 59,119 61,578 618,947
2000 44,715 46,843 47,489 48,363 49,644 51,141 52,889 55,270 57,184 59,903 60,902 62,617 636,960
2002 45,541 46,509 47,898 49,137 51,205 53,422 55,278 57,652 58,906 60,396 62,250 64,824 653,018
2004 45,713 47,436 49,057 51,042 52,798 55,332 56,309 58,070 59,800 62,394 64,143 66,220 668,313
Table 7
Real annual wages of young men and women at the 90th percentile, from ages 28 to 29 to ages 39 to 40, selected cohorts
Table summary
This table displays the results of Real annual wages of young men and women at the 90th percentile Ages, Cumulative earnings, 28 to 29, 29 to 30, 30 to 31, 31 to 32, 32 to 33, 33 to 34, 34 to 35, 35 to 36, 36 to 37, 37 to 38, 38 to 39 and 39 to 40, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Ages Cumulative earnings
28 to 29 29 to 30 30 to 31 31 to 32 32 to 33 33 to 34 34 to 35 35 to 36 36 to 37 37 to 38 38 to 39 39 to 40
2015 dollars
Cohort of young men
1978 77,518 80,325 83,389 85,656 86,435 87,732 90,127 92,576 94,449 96,312 102,553 103,408 1,080,481
1984 75,603 78,144 80,235 82,607 86,228 88,393 90,023 90,416 92,879 93,858 96,261 98,067 1,052,716
1986 74,730 77,389 80,728 83,539 84,884 85,331 88,201 89,582 92,849 94,913 96,587 100,389 1,049,124
1988 74,649 77,724 79,845 80,499 83,479 84,967 88,212 90,639 93,045 96,872 101,536 103,703 1,055,168
1990 72,958 74,203 77,335 79,231 82,912 85,377 88,127 92,026 96,676 100,220 103,605 106,296 1,058,967
1992 71,105 73,641 77,561 80,401 83,166 87,171 92,127 95,630 99,954 102,842 104,584 105,765 1,073,948
1994 71,103 74,480 77,716 81,790 87,332 91,089 95,844 98,863 101,267 102,935 106,047 109,285 1,097,751
1996 70,420 75,275 80,389 85,138 89,906 94,364 96,326 98,608 102,779 106,478 111,003 114,255 1,124,940
1998 73,917 79,518 85,143 89,346 92,003 94,666 98,792 103,147 107,986 111,707 116,248 116,864 1,169,336
2000 76,659 81,460 85,397 88,312 92,886 97,555 102,204 106,791 111,064 112,792 115,938 118,222 1,189,281
2002 77,331 81,194 85,959 91,062 96,659 101,395 106,670 107,071 110,747 114,224 119,072 123,713 1,215,097
2004 77,745 83,589 89,033 94,131 99,483 101,778 105,955 109,182 114,520 119,243 122,154 123,756 1,240,569
Cohort of young women
1978 57,051 57,288 59,235 60,315 62,271 62,367 63,365 64,372 64,878 66,541 68,268 69,062 755,012
1984 55,802 56,732 57,500 58,550 60,518 61,715 63,147 63,656 66,822 67,496 69,093 69,351 750,382
1986 54,672 56,442 57,963 59,192 60,665 61,129 64,288 64,599 66,386 66,969 68,146 69,664 750,115
1988 55,178 56,882 58,746 59,828 62,475 63,390 64,620 65,139 66,509 67,940 70,659 72,449 763,815
1990 56,167 57,103 59,672 60,386 62,199 62,917 64,278 65,941 68,605 70,093 73,720 74,042 775,124
1992 57,651 58,443 59,794 60,346 61,731 63,960 66,847 68,750 72,020 73,148 75,262 76,413 794,364
1994 57,035 57,811 59,808 61,638 64,354 66,611 69,992 71,397 73,413 74,988 77,311 79,530 813,888
1996 55,593 57,523 60,682 63,244 67,119 68,556 70,617 72,805 75,331 77,658 80,682 83,232 833,043
1998 57,095 60,033 63,797 65,928 67,855 69,533 72,110 74,772 78,441 81,542 84,356 87,917 863,379
2000 59,503 62,532 64,684 66,725 69,561 72,026 75,075 78,293 81,084 85,213 87,077 89,359 891,132
2002 61,235 63,727 66,287 68,790 71,773 74,456 78,353 82,102 83,957 85,777 88,421 91,792 916,670
2004 62,231 65,168 67,921 71,293 74,460 78,355 80,023 82,364 84,669 88,422 89,786 92,208 936,900
Table 8
Mean real annual wages of young men and women, from ages 28 to 29 to ages 39 to 40, selected cohorts
Table summary
This table displays the results of Mean real annual wages of young men and women Ages, Cumulative earnings, 28 to 29, 29 to 30, 30 to 31, 31 to 32, 32 to 33, 33 to 34, 34 to 35, 35 to 36, 36 to 37, 37 to 38, 38 to 39 and 39 to 40, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Ages Cumulative earnings
28 to 29 29 to 30 30 to 31 31 to 32 32 to 33 33 to 34 34 to 35 35 to 36 36 to 37 37 to 38 38 to 39 39 to 40
2015 dollars
Cohort of young men
1978 48,524 50,571 52,377 53,365 52,469 52,756 54,917 56,872 57,981 59,640 62,974 63,869 666,315
1984 43,360 45,472 47,226 49,170 51,716 53,368 53,351 52,579 54,120 54,797 56,860 57,882 619,900
1986 42,939 45,140 47,847 49,640 49,967 49,382 50,902 52,251 54,515 55,690 57,450 60,068 615,791
1988 43,416 45,538 46,471 46,177 47,571 48,962 51,185 52,858 54,920 57,839 60,330 62,699 617,966
1990 41,771 41,719 43,592 44,823 47,330 49,296 51,121 54,298 57,164 59,220 62,078 63,250 615,662
1992 39,160 40,666 43,358 45,401 47,751 50,728 53,494 56,080 59,313 60,456 61,456 61,787 619,650
1994 38,889 41,404 43,695 46,845 50,224 52,752 56,184 57,426 58,140 59,097 61,440 63,853 629,949
1996 38,733 41,965 45,429 48,502 52,218 54,218 55,170 56,578 58,706 61,112 63,887 66,180 642,697
1998 40,885 44,336 48,092 50,136 51,946 53,386 55,999 59,072 61,746 63,937 65,974 65,835 661,344
2000 43,108 45,993 48,211 49,568 52,604 55,275 58,750 61,489 63,560 63,795 66,094 67,684 676,133
2002 42,832 45,032 47,986 51,003 54,312 57,133 59,831 59,719 62,464 64,475 66,604 69,196 680,587
2004 42,444 45,992 49,546 52,418 55,430 56,661 58,875 61,271 64,514 66,706 68,852 69,757 692,465
Cohort of young women
1978 29,542 29,646 30,360 30,545 31,424 31,645 32,057 32,734 33,212 33,962 35,508 35,988 386,623
1984 29,169 29,517 29,895 30,453 31,436 32,219 32,880 32,983 34,654 35,095 36,060 36,469 390,831
1986 28,544 29,172 30,086 30,749 31,301 31,521 33,208 33,697 34,600 35,160 35,753 36,752 390,542
1988 29,025 29,708 30,472 30,687 32,173 32,592 33,522 34,132 34,923 35,896 37,435 38,923 399,488
1990 29,168 29,333 30,743 31,372 32,251 32,988 33,644 34,649 36,226 37,291 38,829 39,231 405,725
1992 29,786 30,133 30,939 31,449 32,304 33,669 35,423 36,382 37,991 38,484 39,159 39,870 415,589
1994 29,555 30,176 31,280 32,539 34,052 35,171 36,774 37,478 38,206 38,765 40,339 41,704 426,039
1996 29,241 30,594 32,304 33,745 35,302 36,169 36,375 37,488 38,655 39,977 41,662 43,488 434,999
1998 30,177 31,876 33,723 34,595 34,852 35,932 37,082 38,591 40,531 42,450 43,957 45,461 449,227
2000 31,509 32,940 33,307 34,163 35,388 36,713 38,309 40,091 41,566 43,412 44,388 45,681 457,465
2002 31,786 32,598 33,874 34,965 36,653 38,294 39,935 41,425 42,559 43,790 45,311 47,281 468,472
2004 31,984 33,426 34,764 36,373 37,891 39,545 40,550 41,930 43,304 45,181 46,455 48,099 479,502
Table 9
Cumulative earnings from ages 28 to 29 to ages 33 to 34, by sex, selected cohorts
Table summary
This table displays the results of Cumulative earnings from ages 28 to 29 to ages 33 to 34. The information is grouped by Cohort (appearing as row headers), Cumulative earnings, Men, Women, Median and Average, calculated using 2015 dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Cohort Cumulative earnings
Men Women
Median Average Median Average
2015 dollars
1978 313,080 310,062 171,130 183,162
1980 303,968 300,856 171,830 183,421
1982 291,973 291,929 169,851 182,364
1984 285,437 290,311 169,530 182,690
1986 277,515 284,915 166,544 181,374
1988 269,035 278,135 168,894 184,657
1990 256,314 268,531 169,250 185,855
1992 250,279 267,064 170,690 188,281
1994 251,400 273,808 174,340 192,774
1996 256,056 281,065 177,042 197,355
1998 260,919 288,781 177,485 201,155
2000 264,254 294,761 178,853 204,018
2002 267,808 298,298 182,791 208,170
2004 269,602 302,491 188,265 213,983
2006 273,120 307,464 193,961 220,882
2008 273,323 308,226 197,122 223,646
2010 276,509 314,597 198,033 225,602

Appendix: Data and methods

The study uses data from Statistics Canada’s Longitudinal Worker File (LWF). Three versions of the LWF are used: the 10% versions of: (a) the 1978–1989 LWF, (b) the 1983–2010 LWF, and (c) the 1989–2015 LWF.

Throughout the article, the LWF data are generated using a four-step procedure:

Step 1: In all three versions of the LWF, first restrict the sample to jobs that pay least $500 in 1989 constant dollars (in line with Morissette [2004]) or, equivalently, $846.26 in 2015 dollars (i.e., $500*(126.6/74.8)). Second, convert job-level annual wages into 2015 dollars.

Step 2: Using the resulting job-level samples obtained from Step 1, use the 1989–2015 LWF and the 1983–2010 LWF and anchor the 1983-to-1988 data of the 1983–2010 LWF onto the 1989–2015 LWF, using a rescaling factor obtained from the common year 1989.Note 13

Step 3: Anchor the 1978-to-1982 job-level data of the 1978–1989 LWF onto the anchored 1983-to-1988 job-level data of the 1983–2010 LWF (obtained after Step 2) using a rescaling factor obtained from the common year 1983.

Step 4: Once the job-level data have been made consistent through Steps 2 and 3, compute individual-level real wages and salaries (by summing T4 real earnings across all jobs held by a person in a given year).

To perform synthetic cohort analyses for workers aged 28 to 29 at the beginning of the time interval considered, the following samples are selected:

Using the anchored version of the 1978–1989 LWF, the study tracks the wages of individuals aged 28 to 29:

  • In 1978 over the 1978-to-1989 period = cohort 1 (12 years).
  • In 1980 over the 1980-to-1989 period = cohort 2 (10 years).
  • In 1982 over the 1982-to-1989 period = cohort 3 (8 years).

Using the anchored version of the 1983–2010 LWF, the study tracks the wages of individuals aged 28 to 29:

  • In 1984 over the 1984-to-1995 period = cohort 4 (12 years).
  • In 1986 over the 1986-to-1997 period = cohort 5 (12 years).
  • In 1988 over the 1988-to-1999 period = cohort 6 (12 years).

Using the 1989–2015 LWF, the study tracks the wages of individuals aged 28 to 29:

  • In 1990 over the 1990-to-2001 period = cohort 7 (12 years).
  • In 1992 over the 1992-to-2003 period = cohort 8 (12 years).
  • In 1994 over the 1994-to-2005 period = cohort 9 (12 years).
  • In 1996 over the 1996-to-2007 period = cohort 10 (12 years).
  • In 1998 over the 1998-to-2009 period = cohort 11 (12 years).
  • In 2000 over the 2000-to-2011 period = cohort 12 (12 years).
  • In 2002 over the 2002-to-2013 period = cohort 13 (12 years).
  • In 2004 over the 2004-to-2015 period = cohort 14 (12 years).
  • In 2006 over the 2006-to-2015 period = cohort 15 (10 years).
  • In 2008 over the 2008-to-2015 period = cohort 16 (8 years).
  • In 2010 over the 2010-to-2015 period = cohort 17 (6 years).

For each gender, year and cohort considered, workers with no wages and salaries are excluded. The percentiles are obtained from the earnings distribution of a given gender, cohort and year.

This yields 186 cohort–year observations for each gender. All synthetic cohort analyses are performed separately for men and women.

References

Beaudry, P., and D.A. Green. 2000. "Cohort patterns in Canadian earnings: Assessing the role of skill premia in inequality trends." Canadian Journal of Economics 33 (4): 907−936.

Green, D.A., and J. Townsend. 2010. “Understanding the wage patterns of Canadian less skilled workers: The role of implicit contracts.” Canadian Journal of Economics 43 (1): 373−403.

Lemieux, T., and C.W. Riddell. 2015. “Who are Canada’s top 1 percent?” In Income Inequality: The Canadian Story, ed. D.A. Green, W.C. Riddell and F. St-Hilaire. Quebec: Institute of Research on Public Policy.

Morissette, R. 2004. Have permanent layoff rates increased in Canada? Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, no. 218. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11F0019M. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Morissette, R., F. Hou and G. Schellenberg. 2015. Full-time employment, 1976-2014. Economic Insights, no. 049. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-626-X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Morissette, R. 2016. Perspectives on the youth labour market in Canada. A presentation series from Statistics Canada about the economy, environment and society. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-631-X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. Presentation to the National Statistics Council, April 2016.

Date modified: