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High income, high savings
New census shows an affluent, prudent Northwest Territories - for some

Tim Edwards
Northern News Services
Monday, September 18, 2017

The Northwest Territories leads the nation in middle-class income, according to indicators in the latest release of results from the 2015 national census.

The report pegged the NWT's median income at $117,688, which means half of households in the territory make more than that and half make under.

We're followed by Nunavut, at $97,441, though Nunavut's growth between the 2005 census and the 2015 beats the NWT 36.7 per cent to 24.5 per cent. Nunavut's growth was fueled by more jobs in the resource industry and the public sector.

Among territories, the Yukon trailed in both median income and median income growth, $84,521 and 18.9 per cent respectively - still among the most affluent in Canada.

What's more, the NWT was the only province or territory in Canada where more than 70 per cent of households contributed to a registered savings account - Registered Retirement Savings Plans, Tax-Free Savings Accounts or Registered Pension Plans.

It was also the only jurisdiction where more than 15 per cent of households contributed to all three accounts.

The study also stated that 84 per cent of the territory brought home at least some degree of employment income in, at some point, in 2015.

The median individual income for persons aged 25 to 54 in the NWT was $67,549, before tax. In close to 64 per cent of couples, the male made more money. In approximately 35 per cent, females had a higher income. In 33.8 per cent of couples, the earnings were fairly equal.

On balance, it's critical to note the huge income disparity that exists in the NWT.

In its 2016 Poverty Progress Profile, Canada Without Poverty, the group noted a vast income gap between the major centres and smaller communities in the NWT. It stated 19.3% of NWT residents struggle with low-income.

"The NWT has 33 communities, half of which don't have year-round road access and have some of the highest rates of homelessness, crime, and addiction in the country," the report stated.

"It is a situation anti-poverty advocates note as 'characterized by poor-quality housing and housing shortages, growing disparity in levels of education, employment and incomes, rising alcohol and substance abuse, and increasing rates of crime, suicide and homelessness.'"

This territory's capital, Yellowknife, with less than 20,000 people, reportedly has the highest per capita homelessness rate in the country.

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