Income of Canadians, 2010

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Median after-tax income for families of two or more people amounted to $65,500 in 2010, virtually unchanged from 2009. This was the third consecutive year without significant change in after-tax income.

There were no changes to the three main components of after-tax income—market income, government transfers and income tax—from 2009 to 2010.

Two-parent families with children had a median after-tax income of $78,800 in 2010. The median for female lone-parent families was $38,700, while families headed by a senior had a median after-tax income of $46,800.

Looking at unattached individuals, median after-tax income was also unchanged in 2010. Non-seniors had a median of $27,500, while seniors received $23,400.

Components of after-tax income

After-tax income is the total of market income and government transfers, less income tax. Market income consists of earnings, private pensions, income from investments and other sources.

Despite growth in employment in some sectors, median market income for families with two or more people was unchanged at $64,900 in 2010, following a decline the previous year.

Median market income for two-parent families with children increased from $82,100 in 2009 to $84,400 in 2010.

In 2010, almost 20 million people aged 16 and over received some form of government transfer, an 11.7% increase from 2009. This gain was driven by a 14.5% increase in the number of non-seniors who received government transfers, which coincided with the introduction of new programs in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

The median amount of government transfers received by Canadian families and unattached individuals was unchanged between 2009 and 2010. Families received a median amount of $6,500, while unattached individuals had a median of $1,800.

Among families of two or more people, the median income tax paid in 2010 was $8,200, unchanged from 2009.

Incidence of low income

According to the after-tax low income cut-offs, 3 million Canadians, or 9.0% of the population, lived in low income in 2010, virtually the same number as in 2009. In 2000, this proportion was 12.5%.

About 546,000 children aged 17 and under, or 8.1%, lived in low-income families in 2010, also virtually unchanged from 2009. This compares with 13.8% in 2000.

For children in lone-parent families headed by a woman, the incidence was 21.8%, accounting for 187,000 children, unchanged from 2009.

The incidence of low income for children living in two-parent families was 5.7% in 2010, down from 9.5% in 2000.

After-tax income mobility

Absolute mobility measures changes in individual after-tax income over time. It shows how many people had an increase in income and how many experienced a decline.

Between 2009 and 2010, after-tax income rose for 52.8% of individuals, while 47.2% experienced a decline. Between 2006 and 2007, before the economic downturn, income rose for 62.4% and declined for 37.6%.

Relative mobility shows changes from one income level to another. For this purpose, the population was divided into five equal-sized groups from the lowest after-tax income to the highest.

Between 2009 and 2010, 16.2% of Canadians moved up to a higher income bracket relative to their position a year earlier, while 14.8% moved down.

Median income for families unchanged in all provinces

Median after-tax income for families with two or more people was unchanged in 2010 in all provinces.

Median after-tax income was significantly higher in Ontario and Western Canada than in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The median was highest in Alberta, at $78,100.

Note to readers

This report examines the income of families and unattached individuals, as well as low income and income mobility in Canada. It is based on 2010 annual income information provided by the participants in the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. Because a large proportion of the participants have provided information for several years, a closer look at how individual incomes change over time is possible. As estimates are based on probability samples, analyses throughout this report take into account the random aspect of the results. Consequently, two point estimates are not necessarily different although the numbers differ. To cope with sampling variability, comparisons throughout this report are based on 95% confidence intervals.

This report largely analyses income on the basis of medians. The median is the level of income at which half of the population had higher income and half had lower. All figures in this report are sample survey estimates, unless otherwise stated. All income estimates are expressed in constant 2010 dollars to factor in inflation and enable comparisons across time in real terms.

The distributional and mobility analyses are done at the person level where each individual is represented by their household after-tax income. This income is adjusted to take into account the number of people in the household, and the relative increase in expenses associated with larger households.

This release is accompanied by a historical revision for 2006 to 2009. The Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics estimates for 2006 and the years following are now produced on the basis of population counts from the 2006 Census of Population, instead of the 2001 Census. As a result, tables and charts presented in this report, as well as all those in the CANSIM 202 series, have been revised for that period.

This is the last release of longitudinal data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. Effective with next year's release of 2011 data, only cross-sectional estimates will be available.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table202-0101 to 202-0107, CANSIM table202-0201 to 202-0203, CANSIM table202-0301, CANSIM table202-0401 to 202-0411, CANSIM table202-0501, CANSIM table202-0601 to 202-0606, CANSIM table202-0701 to 202-0709 and CANSIM table202-0801 to 202-0809.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers survey number3502 and survey number3889.

A more detailed report, Income in Canada, 2010 (Catalogue number75-202-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications. This report contains analysis, charts and time series at the Canada, province and some census metropolitan area level. To provide a more complete picture of low income, the report includes analysis using three complementary low income lines: the low income cut-offs, the low income measures and the market basket measure (MBM). The first two were developed by Statistics Canada; the MBM is based on concepts developed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or the Media Hotline (613-951-4636; mediahotline@statcan.gc.ca).