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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Richest Manitobans see biggest growth

Bottom 50 per cent get only modest gain

Posted: 02/9/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 02/9/2013 4:26 PM | Updates

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OTTAWA -- The wealthiest people in Manitoba saw their incomes rise more than 50 per cent during the last three decades, leaving the rest of the province's income-earners in their dust.

While the median income of all Manitobans increased between 1982 and 2010, the gap between the top one per cent and the other 99 per cent grew significantly, a Statistics Canada report shows. Median can be defined as a number in the middle, the point at which there is an equal amount of numbers above and below.

The median income of the 5,305 Manitobans who were among the wealthiest one per cent of Canadians in 2010 was $276,600, up 51 per cent, or $97,900 since 1982. The median income of Manitobans in the bottom 99 per cent of Canadians rose 18.5 per cent, or just $4,400 in that same time frame.

The bottom 50 per cent in Manitoba saw a median income increase of just $2,600.

All figures have been adjusted for inflation to reflect 2010 dollars.

"We have to question why the bottom have seen no real wage gains in the last 30 years," said David Macdonald, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. "Almost everyone is making a little more but the wage increases have mostly gone to the upper end."

However, compared to the national picture, the gap between rich and poor in Manitoba isn't growing nearly as fast as it is elsewhere. Nationally, the median income of the bottom 99 per cent grew just $400 between 1982 and 2010, compared to a jump of $63,110 for the top one per cent.

And the country's biggest cities saw the incomes of the bottom 99 per cent go down while incomes of the wealthy soared. Median incomes of the bottom 99 per cent dropped more than $7,400 in Vancouver, $662 in Calgary, $5,500 in Toronto and $1,440 in Montreal. Those in the top one per cent in those cities saw incomes rise between $91,000 and $99,000 a year.

In Winnipeg in 1982, the bottom 50 per cent had a median income of $12,520. By 2010, that had grown to $14,700, a jump of nearly 15 per cent. Meanwhile, Winnipeggers among the top one per cent of all income-earners in Canada saw median incomes jump 47.3 per cent in that time frame, from $187,163 to $275,700.

Macdonald said generally in the Prairies and the Atlantic region, the gap between the wealthiest and everyone else did not grow as quickly as it did in the wealthier provinces and cities. He said that's likely because there aren't as many jobs on the really high end of the scale.

He said it's not entirely clear why incomes of most Canadians seem to be stagnating.

He said it is important to point out the wealthiest may have seen their incomes rise much faster, but so did their tax bills.

Between 1982 and 2010, the top one per cent of Canadians saw their income tax bills rise from $28,700 to $90,100, and the share of all income taxes paid by the top one per cent went from 13.4 per cent to 21.2 per cent.

So the top one per cent in Canada earn about one-tenth of the total income available, but pay more than one-fifth of all provincial and federal taxes.

Meanwhile, the bottom 50 per cent of Canadians saw their share of income taxes fall to four per cent in 2010 from 5.5 per cent in 1982.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 9, 2013 A4

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Updated on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 4:26 PM CST: adds fact box

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