Canadians are Making More Money

The results of the latest National Household Survey have recently been released by Statistics Canada. It looks like Canadians have had a strong recovery from the recession and have seen a significant increase in income.


The National Household Survey (NHS) is the new and voluntary survey which replaced Statistic Canada’s long-form census. It was sent to about 30 per cent of the population, with a participation rate of 68.6 per cent. While the NHS has been critiqued for being less accurate than the previous long-form census, experts believe it still offers a good representation of our population.

So what did the latest survey reveal?

According to the data, to be in the top 1 per cent of earners in Canada, you had to make a minimum of $191,000 per year. The average income for the top 1 per cent came in at $381,336. There are 272,600 Canadians in this group. Most are married, middle-aged men, well educated, and working in the field of engineering, health or business. The provinces with the most top earners are Ontario and Alberta. More than 50 per cent of these top earners live in one of just four cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary or Montreal.

To make it into the top 10 per cent of Canadian high earners, you had to make at least $80,400 per year.

How do earners in these groups compare to the typical Canadian? The median Canadian income was found to be $29,878. This means exactly half of Canadians earn more, half earn less. The median household income was $76,000. The majority of Canadians choose to own their homes instead of renting. However, most are also still carrying a mortgage.

Education seems to be one of the biggest differences between the average Canadian and the top 1 per cent earners. About 20 per cent of Canadians have a university degree, compared to 67 per cent of top earners. Also, of all Canadians with a degree, almost one quarter made it into the top 10 per cent of earners. A university education was one of the biggest factors in earning a big income later on.

But not all high income earners fit the mold. Women are making more than they were and are slowly joining the ranks of the highest earners. A small group of top earners have no degrees, 3 per cent of which have not even completed high-school. Some had no employment at all, receiving their large incomes from investments, rentals or another source of private income.
So what can you do to better your chances at becoming a member of the top 10 per cent, or even top 1 per cent club?

  • Focus on education. The majority of high earners have a university degree
  • Choose your field of study wisely. Most top earners are doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists, senior managers and business or financial professionals
  • Go where the money is. Most high paying jobs are in major centres, such as Toronto or Calgary
  • Give it time. Most high income earners are well over 45 years old and have worked their way up the ranks to their high-paying positions

For more findings from the National Household Survey, the Financial Post has published an interesting article here