Low-income households have accelerated their wealth generation

But their disposable income grew at a slower pace than wealthier cohorts

Low-income households have accelerated their wealth generation
Steve Randall

Canadian wealth generation remains an uneven playing field according to Statistics Canada data.

The agency released two reports Wednesday that highlight inequality across income bands and generations, based on the latest available data.

Firstly, an analysis of figures for the fourth quarter of 2021 reveal that less wealthy households (bottom two quintiles) saw their net worth rise at a faster pace than wealthier cohorts, on average.

However, major income earners under 35s saw their net worth decline for the first time since the pandemic began.

Fewer younger Canadians bought homes and focused their attention on reducing debt (by 2.8% - more than any other group) while reducing the value of their non-pension financial assets including cash savings and mutual funds (by 3.3%).

Meanwhile, the debt-to-income ratio of older Canadians was notable, rising 9 percentage points for those aged 45-54 (mortgage debt was the main driver) and 8 percentage points for the 65+ age group.

Disposable income

The second report from Statistics Canada shows that household disposable income grew at a slower pace for lower income households than those with higher incomes in 2021.

Government support measures pushed lower income earners’ disposable income to an average $33,000 in 2020, with the highest earners recording disposable income of $169,300. These were increases year-over-year of 29% and 3% respectively.

However, in 2021, higher income households saw average disposable income rise 5% to $178,100 while the gain for the lowest quintile was 3% to $34,000.

The winding down of government support has had the greatest impact on lower income households.