May 3, 2008 / 11:40 AM / 10 years ago

Rich got richer, poor poorer: Canada census

TORONTO (Reuters) - A booming Canadian economy did nothing to pad the incomes of the country’s poor and middle class, while the rich are getting richer, according to census data released on Thursday.

A report said middle-class Canadians saw their median earnings grow only 0.1 percent between 1980 and 2005, while top earners enjoyed a 16 percent jump over the same period. The poorest Canadians, meanwhile, saw earnings plummet 20 percent.

“Frankly, it’s a wake-up call. This is happening at the tail end of a solid economic performance for Canada, and yet only a small group of Canadians are seeing the benefits,” said Armine Yalnizyan, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Although Canada’s job growth is outpacing the U.S., most of it is in the lower-paying service sector, Yalnizyan told Reuters.

At the same time, a slump in manufacturing jobs, combined with rising housing prices and higher education costs, took their toll on the middle class, she said.

“Despite the fact that the middle class are better educated, more women are working, and more people in the household are working, they’re just peddling faster and getting nowhere,” Yalnizyan said.

The data also painted a gloomy picture for young people entering the workforce, who are facing more contract work and fewer benefits than their parents did a generation ago.

Median earnings for male workers between ages 25 and 29 dropped to C$37,680 ($36,980) in 2005 from an inflation-adjusted C$43,767 in 1980. Earnings among women 25-29 dropped less significantly to C$32,104 in 2005 from C$32,813 in 1980.

Editing by Rob Wilson

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