Residents of Vancouver have been debating whether there was a great wealth influx over the past 5 years. Now with the latest Statistics Canada release of 2016 Census data containing 2015 income levels, we know. Yes, wealth did increase in the city. Just not even close to the amount that would be needed to support a city substantially more expensive than Toronto. Well… the incomes the government knows about aren’t at that level at least.
Income Growth Is Nowhere Near Housing Growth
The median income of Vancouver households showed gains, but nothing near what people were expecting. Vancouver CMA had a median household income of $72,662 in 2015, a 14.7% increase from 2010’s numbers. Inflation adjusting this gain using the Bank of Canada (BoC) numbers, this works out to 5.2%. Considering the 78% jump in home prices during that same period, it’s safe to say incomes aren’t the primary driver of wealth in these neighbourhoods.
Households Earning Over $100k+ Spike
The number of households earning six figures made a dramatic increase between census reports. The Vancouver CMA had 332,745 households earning over $100,000 per year, a massive 31.3% increase from the previous report. There were also only 182,605 households earning less than $30,000, a decrease of more than 10%. While the latter seems like a celebrating point, let’s not forget that Metro Vancouver estimates 5 people are going homeless per week. The decline in $30,000 households could have more to do with households failing than general prosperity.
Wealthiest (and Poorest) Neighborhoods By Median Household Income
Vancouver hasn’t quite developed the wealthy enclaves everyone assumed, at least going by incomes declared in the 2016 Census. The tract with the highest median household income was in Shaughnessy, just east of Granville Street, where the median household income is $169,984. While that’s pretty good, it’s also just under half of Toronto’s wealthiest neighborhood. A little weird since Vancouver is a substantially more expensive city.
The lowest median income was observed in the Downtown Eastside, around Oppenheimer Park. There the median household income was just $33,920. Not too surprising considering the higher number of single-room occupancy households likely concentrates single-income reporting.
It is somewhat surprising that Vancouver, one of the most expensive cities in the world, doesn’t have a single census tract where the median household income is higher than $200,000. You’d have to be quite the super saver in Point Grey, where the average house costs over $4.5 million, but the median household income is less than $125,000.
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