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November 2002     Vol. 3, no. 11

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Cumulative earnings among young workers

René Morissette

  • Between 1988 and 1999, Canadian-born men aged 26 to 35 in 1999 cumulated $246,500 in wages and salaries (in 1999 dollars), fully $40,000 less then their counterparts between 1973 and 1984. Young immigrant men fared worse. Their cumulative wages and salaries fell by more than $75,000 between the 1973 to 1984 and 1988 to 1999 periods.
  • Canadian-born women of the same age amassed $172,000 between 1988 and 1999, $20,000 more than between 1973 and 1984. Cumulative wages and salaries of young immigrant women remained virtually unchanged at $176,000.
  • The decline in cumulative earnings (wages and salaries plus self-employment earnings) of young men is likely the major factor underlying the decline in median wealth of young families. Median wealth of young Canadian-born and immigrant families (aged 26 to 35) fell by $8,000 and $23,000, respectively. The substantial decline in cumulative earnings of young immigrants was associated with a decline in homeownership among these families.
  • Student debt played only a minor role. Between 1982 and 1995, the average amount owed at graduation by male bachelor's graduates increased by about $4,000 (in 1999 dollars). This is less than one-tenth the decline in cumulative earnings of young Canadian-born men between the 1973 to 1984 and 1988 to 1999 periods.

Author

René Morissette is with the Business and Labour Market Analysis Division. He can be reached at (613) 951-3608 or perspectives@statcan.gc.ca.

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