Castlegar News, Page 0024, 31-Oct-2007Unbiased by me for your reading pleasure. Comment away.
Income Earnings – Where do you Rank?
By Debbie Pereversoff CFP, CSA
Last week, I searched the internet looking for interesting data from the good folks at Statistics Canada regarding retirement savings. I wanted to find out a little bit about income earnings. Specifically, how much money people make out there, and where do we as individuals stack up?
All the data here is for the 2004 calendar year, which is the most recent income data available.
Just prepare to brace yourself; we'll start with “median” total income. The median is the mid-point, where half the included population is higher and half is lower.
“Total income” in this case includes income from employment, investment, government transfers, private pensions, registered retirement savings plans and other income. What I found out was that the median total income for Canadians was…$24,400. If you made more than $24,400 in 2004 – congratulations - you were in the top half of income earners!
Now, before you calculate that fully half of Canadians work for less than $12.20 an hour, bear in mind that “total income” will capture part-time employees, after-school student jobs, etc. Those people will pull down the average with a low income that may not be representative of hardship. That being said, the bottom half of total income earners is also populated by people who are out of the work force and living on low incomes provided by pensions and government benefits.
Many of those people do indeed have financial hardship.
The median employment income for Canadians in 2004 was $25,400 - that's just counting the working folks. The highest median employment income by province was the Northwest Territories by a wide margin ($35,400), followed by the Yukon ($28,300), Ontario ($27,900) and Alberta ($27,500).
Newfoundland was the lowest at $17,000.
But let's move back to total income for Canadians, and climb further up the scale to see where the meat is. Let's move all the way up to where about 2/3rds of individuals have lower incomes. In 2004, you were in the top third of income earners if you made more than…are you ready? - $35,000!
I know what you're saying. Let's go higher! Okay, let's move up to the top quintile line. At this level of income, 80 percent of people made less than you – the number? – 19.8 percent of Canadians with an income made $50,000 or more in 2004!
Now, although a bit over 12 percent of individuals had incomes between $50,000 and $75,000, the atmosphere thins out pretty quickly above that. Only 7.6 percent of people had incomes of $75,000 or more in 2004. Only 3.4 percent made $100,000 or more. And by the time we get to the $150,000 or more category, we're down to just 1.3 percent of income recipients.
People with 2004 incomes of $200,000 or more were a rounding error: only 0.7 percent made $200,000 or more. And you can be 99.5 percent sure that any randomly selected Canadian earned less than $250,000.
OK - those are the stats for individuals. The nice folks at Stats Canada also track the incomes of various family groupings, so we can get an idea of where entire households compare by income. “Couple families” are couples (married or common-law, including same-sex couples) living at the same address, with or without children. No singles or lone parents are included. The median total income from all sources for all members of such families in 2004 was $64,800. Less than a quarter of such households had total incomes of $100,000 or more and just over 8 percent had incomes of $150,000 or greater.
So, there are the stats, and that's what we make. Now, consider some of the implications of this information. If there were folks who made $50,000 a year and didn't feel like they were making enough to get by (and there are), it would be useful for them to consider that based on 2004 figures, 80 percent of Canadians with an income actually make less than that. If their individual income was close to $65,000 – it would be enough to push them into the top ten percent of incomes, received by Canadians.
Ninety percent of the 23.4 million people with an income in Canada made less. If they felt they weren't getting by at an income level that's higher than that of the vast majority of the people, in one of the richest countries in the history of the world, do they have an income problem or is it a problem related to something else, like choices or expectations?
Looking at the statistics of what we all make, it sure gives you something to think about – doesn’t it?
Debbie Pereversoff CFP CSA is a Certified Financial Planner and a Certified Seniors Advisor with her company The Affolter Financial Group Inc. in Castlegar.