Incomes Flat as a Pancake in 2010

Today’s Statscan release of income data for 2010 allow for a backward glance at the state of the recovery.

What is most striking is that – following two years of flat income growth in 2008 and 2009 – there was no meaningful economic recovery for most Canadians in 2010. Median earnings (half earned more, half earned less) were slightly down (from $29,300 to $29,100) and median income after tax of economic families of two persons and more was up a mere $100, from $65,400 to $65,500. This is somewhat surprising given that 2010 was marked by a modest fall in unemployment and rising GDP.

It is interesting to note that median after tax family income actually fell in the prairie provinces, from $74,400 to $73,500.

Median after tax income of elderly families fell by $1,000, from $47,800 to $46,800 and there was a modest increase in the after tax poverty rate of seniors, from 5.1% to 5.3%.

At a quick glance, there was no significant increase in inequality in 2010 as measured by the gini or income quintile shares. Incomes were pretty much flat as a pancake across the distribution. Not much cause for celebration there.

My colleague Angella reminds me that this was the last year for longitudinal income data from SLID. Following a sample of persons over time provided very useful information on the persistence of poverty and the extent to which there is mobility up and down the income spectrum over time. Now we just won’t know.

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