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75-202-XWE
Income in Canada
2004


Highlights
  • Median after-tax income rose for most Canadian families in 2004 as strong economic growth fostered gains in employment, which in turn boosted market income, according to new data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID).
  • Canadian families with two or more people had a median income after taxes of $54,100, up about 2% from 2003, after adjusting for inflation. (Median is the point at which half of families had higher income and half less.)
  • The Canadian economy, as measured by real gross domestic product, grew 2.9% in 2004. According to the Labour Force Survey, this gain extended to the labour market as employment rose during the year, all in full-time jobs, and the unemployment rate declined.
  • The increase in after-tax income wasn’t shared by all family types, however. Among senior or "elderly" families  – those in which the main income earner was aged 65 and over – median after-tax income remained virtually unchanged as it also did for “unattached individuals”, or single people.
  • Families in only two provinces – Alberta and Ontario – recorded median after-tax income that was higher than the national level. In fact, families in Alberta had the nation’s highest median for the first time ever.
  • Of the three main components of after-tax income (market income, transfers from governments and personal income taxes), only market income changed significantly from 2003. (Market income is the sum of earnings from employment, investment income and private retirement income.)
  • Canadian families and unattached singles got the lion’s share of their total pretax income from market income. For families of two or more people, market income rose about 2%. Despite this gain, however, income taxes remained about the same.

SLID data also showed:

  • The gap in after-tax income between the one-fifth of families with the highest incomes and the one-fifth with the lowest widened in 2004. The gap increased from $99,000 in 2003 to $102,700 in 2004. However, after-tax income increased for families of two persons or more in all five income groups.
  • The proportion of families living below Statistics Canada’s low-income cutoff (LICO), declined in 2004, reflecting the strong economic conditions.
  • An estimated 684,000 families were living in low income in 2004, 7.8% of the total, down from 8.5% in 2003 and 9.5% in 1999. These families needed an average of $7,200 to bring their income above the cutoff, compared with $7,500 in 1999.
  • An estimated 865,000 children aged 17 and under, or 12.8% of the total, were living in low-income families in 2004, compared with 1.0 million in 1999. The rate was well below the peak of 18.6% in 1996, but up slightly from the low of 12.1% in 2001.
  • The low-income rate among seniors fell to an all-time low of only 5.6%. Single senior women were twice as likely to be in low income as single senior males.


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