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Down, but still on top: Incomes in Alberta

Down, but still on top: Incomes in Alberta

Posted on: 11/16/2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

Alberta is a wonderful place. It is also a wealthy place. Not including the territories, Alberta has the highest GDP per capita in the country (including during the recent recession); the highest median income across all family types (before and after income taxes are subtracted); and the lowest incidence of low income.

Alberta is also home to 24 per cent of Canada’s highest earners (defined here as the top one per cent of tax filers) even though it accounts for just 12 per cent of the national population.

These top earners are not, however, evenly distributed across the province. Calgary was home to 52 per cent of Alberta’s highest income recipients in 2015 compared to 25 per cent in Edmonton. Although it represents just two per cent of Alberta’s population, Wood Buffalo (which includes Fort McMurray) was home to five per cent of the top earners. The impact of the recession on Fort McMurray is highlighted by the fact that the number of top earners living there fell by 43 per cent between 2014 and 2015. (Data for 2016 are not available.)

This does not mean that everyone in Alberta is doing fine. On the contrary, many Albertans are still reeling from two years of recession and almost one in 10 of us lives in a low-income household. The relative cost of living in the province compared to some other parts of the country is also a factor.

Nonetheless, the income statistics for Alberta highlight the underlying strength of the provincial economy and its importance to the national economy. Top earners by province, graph

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