Canadians’ disposable income grew 2.2 per cent between 2015 and 2016, according to data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.
Although that was a healthy clip compared to inflation, which rose only 1.3 per cent over the period, how Canadians actually fared varies dramatically across the country. Disposable incomes were up by over 6 per cent in Prince Edward Island, which saw the strongest gain, but dropped by more than that in Alberta.
Here is the full ranking:
Disposable income growth 2015-2016
|Prince Edward Island||6.1%|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||1.5%|
The data is a clear portrait of post-resource boom Canada, with all three of the country’s oil-producing provinces ranking below the national average in terms of disposable income growth.
It’s a stark reversal of fortunes compared to the prior decade when soaring commodity prices put Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Newfoundland at the top of the chart:
Disposable income growth 2005-2016
|Newfoundland and Labrador||84.4%|
|Prince Edward Island||55.2%|
Household saving rate
But the drop in commodity prices likely had far-reaching effects that went well beyond incomes in Western Canada.
One of them was prompting the Bank of Canada to lower interest rates. The central bank cut rates in January and July of 2015, from 1 per cent to 0.5 per cent, in an effort to provide a bit of oomph to what was then a struggling economy. (Interest rates have since climbed back up to 1 per cent thanks to two hikes so far this year.)
Those rate cuts may be the reason Canadians’ saving rate in 2016 dropped to 3.5 per cent, the lowest it had been since 2008.
Notably, households in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland had the highest saving rate last year, despite the drop in disposable income growth.
British Columbians and Nova Scotians, on the other hand, have negative saving rates, at -0.7 per cent and -3.6 per cent respectively.
Debt service ratio
Despite lower interest rates in 2016, the proportion of disposable income that Canadians were devoting to make interest payments on their debt remained roughly the same as in 2015, around 6.4 per cent.
British Columbia and Ontario are the provinces where households spent the largest share of their income on making interest payments, at 7 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively. The statistic likely reflects the impact of exorbitant housing prices in Vancouver and Toronto.
Families in New Brunswick had the lowest debt-service ratio, at 4.9 per cent.