A Comparison of Rural and Urban Workers Living in Low-Income

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

By Myriam Fortin, Human Resources and Social Development Canada



  • In both rural and urban areas, the share of workers living in low-income families is similar. However, the characteristics of low-income workers differ between rural and urban areas.
  • Being the sole earner in the family is the main factor associated with living in low-income for rural and urban workers in Canada. The incidence of living in a low-income family is higher among the self-employed in rural areas and higher among the low-paid in urban areas. Living in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba or working in primary industries increased the risk of living in a low-income family for rural citizens.
  • The rural and urban working poor spent, on average, half of their time in low-income over the five-year period from 2000 to 2004.
  • A change in family composition or an increase in the earnings of other family members are central in explaining the exit from low-income for both the rural and urban working poor.
  • Being self-employed or working many hours per year are permanent experiences for many rural working poor.
  • For the working poor, moving from a rural area to an urban centre appears to improve economic outcomes. The reverse does not seem to be true.


You need to use the free Adobe Reader to view PDF documents. To view (open) these files, simply click on the link. To download (save) them, right-click on the link. Note that if you are using Internet Explorer or AOL, PDF documents sometimes do not open properly. See Troubleshooting PDFs. PDF documents may not be accessible by some devices. For more information, visit the Adobe website or contact us for assistance.