Perspectives on Household Income Highlights

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1 Urban Development Services Policy & Research This bulletin is one of a series of research products that the Urban Development Services Department will produce, focusing on the results of the 2001 Census of Canada. A copy of this bulletin can be found on the City of Toronto s website at September 2004 Perspectives on Household Income Highlights Household income in Toronto has declined over the past two decades. In 2000, Toronto s median household income stood at $49,345, a drop of 6% in real terms from $52,362 in Toronto CMA median household income in 2000 amounted to $59,502, twenty-five percent (25%) higher than the national average, but 1% lower than in Toronto s income level is much lower than that of the four Regions in the GTA and income disparity has increased between 1990 and In 2000, 71% of the GTA households with incomes under $20,000 lived in Toronto compared with 41% of those with incomes over $100,000. Migration into and out of the City increases the number of lower income households and decreases the number of middle and higher income households. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of households in Toronto increased by 22%; lowerincome households increased by nearly 50%, high-income households by 42% and middleincome households by only 8%. In 2000, most of the GTA s poorest neighbourhoods were located within the City of Toronto. On the other hand, most of the higher income neighbourhoods were found outside the City; although some of the very wealthiest neighbourhoods in the GTA were found in Toronto. Over the past two decades, lower-income households have increased greatly in the outer City (Scarborough/North York/Etobicoke), while higher-income households increased strongly in the inner City (former Toronto/York/EastYork). The numbers of recently arrived immigrants have a strong impact on income levels, because new immigrants generally have lower incomes. Areas where income declined over the 1990s also tend to be areas with large numbers of recent immigrants. In contrast, areas with higher income growth tend to have fewer recent immigrants. he latter half of the 1990s was a Tperiod of strong economic resurgence and steady population growth. Despite these gains, household income in Toronto was lower in real terms in 2000 than it had been in both 1990 and 1980, and only slightly higher than it had been in Using data from the Census over the past 20 years, this bulletin presents a broad overview of the changes to household income that have occurred in Toronto and its surrounding communities. It examines how the income of Toronto households compares to households in other large urban centers; trends and patterns of change across the GTA; the growth in income disparities and how income is spatially distributed across the City. Household income is dynamic and complex. It is tied to a myriad of social, economic and demographic factors. An understanding of household income change is important to understanding quality of life in Toronto and the evolving fabric of Toronto s neighbourhoods. To a large degree income influences how we live, where we live and our consumption of goods and services. Throughout this report, the term households refers to all persons living in a dwelling regardless of their relationship. profile TORONTO 1

2 A household may consist of a single person living alone, unrelated individuals sharing accommodation, or it may consist of one family or more than one family sharing a dwelling. The profile uses median household income as its measure of an area s income level. It is the point in a distribution where one-half of the households have higher incomes than the other half. It is the best indicator of average income because the median is not skewed by very high or very low values. All income values are given in constant dollars for the year 2000, to remove the effects of inflation so that true comparisons can be made over time. Constant dollar values are derived by adjusting the actual values with the Consumer Price Index for Toronto. Income is reported for the calendar year, therefore, the Census contains income data for the previous year, i.e., the 2001 Census shows income for Household income is the total combined income of all members of a household 15 years of age and over. It includes income from paid employment, self-employment, income from government such as Canada Child Tax benefits, Old Age Security, Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan, income from investments pensions and other money income. How does Toronto s Household Income Compare with Other Large Cities? In 2000, the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) had the highest median household income of Canada s large urban centers, exceeding the national level by 27% (Table 1). Median household incomes for the 13 largest CMAs in Canada ranged from $41,864 to $59,502 (Figure 1, Table 1). Most exceeded the national average. Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa-Hull had the highest levels, about 25% above the national level, whereas Quebec City and Montreal had the lowest median household incomes of the 13 CMAs. Income Trends in the Toronto Region The City of Toronto is part of a larger Census Metropolitan Area defined by Statistics Canada (CMA See Map 1). In the 1990s, household income in the Toronto CMA dropped sharply during the recession (before 1995), then increased again during the latter half of the decade, though not quite to its 1990 levels. This followed two decades of steadily rising income levels in the 1970s and 1980s (Table 2, Figure 2). Although Toronto s population is approximately half that of the CMA, its median household income has decreased over the last 20 years, while the CMA s has increased. In 1980, Toronto s median income was 93% of the CMA s. By 2000 it had fallen to 83%. Toronto s median income level is much lower than that of the four GTA Regions surrounding the City (Figure 3), and in each case this income disparity increased between 1990 and 2000 as shown by the ratio of Toronto to the other regions in Table 3. Note, however, that in the latter half of the decade Toronto s relative position improved slightly. Source: Statistics Canada Source: Statistics Canada Source: Statistics Canada 2 City of Toronto Urban Development Services September 2004

3 Patterns of Change Across the GTA Although in the GTA as a whole, the median income in 2000 had rebounded to the 1990 level, there was considerable variation in the experience of municipalities across the Region, including the former municipalities that now make up the City of Toronto (Map 1, Appendix 1). Source: Statistics Canada Source: Statistics Canada Between 1990 and 2000, two-thirds of the GTA municipalities experienced net increases in median household income and approximately one-third, net decreases. The areas with the largest decreases stand out as a cluster in Toronto s suburbs and in Markham; whereas the areas with largest percent increases are all in the outer areas of the GTA, except for the former City of Toronto (Map 1). The numbers of recently arrived immigrants have a strong impact on income levels, because new immigrants generally have lower incomes. Figure 4 shows that the areas of greatest decline in income over the 1990s also tend to be areas with large numbers of recent immigrants. In contrast, areas where income grew tend to have fewer recent immigrants. Source: Statistics Canada The Regional Income Gap The disparity in median income between Toronto and the rest of the Region reflects the relatively large number of lower income households in Toronto and the large number of higher-income households in the regions surrounding Toronto (Figure 5, Table 4). The GTA regions had 105,700 fewer households than the City in 2001, but 116,500 more households with incomes greater than $60,000. In contrast, the City has 222,100 more households with incomes below $60,000. The end result is that the lower the household income, the more likely it is the household will be located in the City. In 2000, 71% of GTA households with incomes under $20,000 lived in Toronto compared with 41% of those with incomes over $100,000. (shown in the right hand column in Table 4). profile TORONTO 3

4 The migration of households into, and out of, Toronto adds to this disparity. Toronto is gaining lower-income households but losing middle- and higher-income households. The result is a shrinking middle class. Figure 6 shows the net impact of household mobility on income levels in Toronto in the 1990s. Between 1996 and 2001, households moving in or out of Toronto produced a 9% increase in households earning under $60,000 and a 3% decrease in households earning over $60,000. Similarly, in the first half of the 1990 s household mobility produced a 5% increase in households earning under $60,000 and a 7% decrease in households earning over $60,000. Source: Statistics Canada These disparities are also reflected in the geography of low- and high-income neighbourhoods in the GTA (Map 2). With only a few exceptions, the poorest 10% of neighbourhoods are all located within the City of Toronto, and most of the lower-income neighbourhoods outside Toronto are in Oshawa. In contrast, most of the highest-income neighbourhoods in the GTA (i.e., the highest 10% of GTA census tracts by median income) are found in the outer regions; although some of the very wealthiest neighbourhoods in the GTA are found in Toronto (Map 2). Source: Statistics Canada, 2001 Census Source: Statistics Canada, 2001 Census 4 City of Toronto Urban Development Services September 2004

5 profile TORONTO 5

6 Source: Statistics Canada; Data based on income quintiles for the GTA The Income Gap is Growing The gap between high- and lowincome households in Toronto grew between 1980 and Over time, the rich have become richer, the poor, poorer (Table 5). A recent Statistics Canada study shows that the average income for the richest 10% of families in the Toronto CMA rose substantially, by almost 25% from 1980 to 2000, whereas the average income for the poorest 10% of families fell by 4% to $23,500. Source: Andrew Heisz and Logan McLeod, 2004, Low-income in Census Metropolitan Areas, , Catalogue no MIE No. 001, Ottawa, Statistics Canada High-income families increased their share of the CMA s total income, from 25% in 1980 to 31% in 2000, while low-income families share of total income decreased slightly by 0.3% over this period. Lacking comparable data for the City of Toronto, a ratio of average to median income is used in Table 6 to show the widening income gap. Median income is the income of the middle 6 City of Toronto Urban Development Services September 2004

7 Defining High, Middle and Low Income To compare the distribution of household income groups both across the City and through time reasonably consistent definitions of the income groups are needed. Therefore, three ranges of income (low, middle and high) are used in this report that are based on readily available Census data. The 1981 Census publications show households earning under $10,000 and over $40,000, and in Toronto each group accounted for about 18% of all households. These data were the basis One in Every Five Torontonians Live in Poverty Statistics Canada uses Low Income Cutoff (LICOs) to measure poverty. LICOs take into account household size and the size of the city or town where people live. In 2000, a family of 4 in Toronto was considered to be in poverty if its income was below $34,572. The equivalent threshold for an individual was $18,371. for our definitions. When adjusted for inflation, these values were equivalent to about $22,500 and $90,000 respectively in These thresholds were used to define low, middle and high income for the analysis shown in Tables 7 and 8 and on Maps 4 and 5, as well as for the Dissimilarity Index analysis (see Box). In summary, the threshold values used to define low, middle and high income are: Group Low Income Less than $22,500 Less than $10,000 Middle Income $22,500 - $90,000 $10,000 - $40,000 High Income Over $90,000 Over $40,000 Note that the definition of low income is different than the Low Income Cut-Offs that Statistics Canada uses to measure poverty (See box, One in every five Torontonians lives in poverty ). poor families than in 1980, so that by 2000, 1 in 5 families were in poverty. The incidence of poverty among unattached individuals is much higher than it is for economic families. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of poor unattached individuals grew almost 50% to 141,380 persons in household when all households are arranged from highest to lowest. Average income is skewed by extremes in income values, especially high incomes, therefore it is generally higher than median income. The disparity ratio for Toronto has grown steadily from 1.15 in 1970 to 1.40 in 2000, illustrating the widening income gap. Over the past 20 years, Toronto s growth has brought relatively large increases in high- and low-income households, and a much smaller increase in middle-income households the shrinking middle (Table 7). Over this period, Toronto s households increased by 22%; but low-income households increased by 47%, highincome households by 42% and middleincome households by only 8%. In 1980, about 63% of Toronto s households were middle income by our definition; by 2000 this had dropped to 56%. The increase in low-income households in the City is reflected in the growing poverty as measured by Statistics Canada (see One in Every Five Torontonians Live in Poverty ). The data in the table below show how the number of families, unattached individuals and persons below the LICO has increased over the past two decades. Today, Toronto has 70% more The total number of persons below the LICO has increased by more than 200,000 persons over the last two decades, so that today, 23% of all Toronto residents live in poverty. City of Toronto All families 555, , ,740 Number of low-income families 73,285 95, ,005 Incidence of low income 13% 16% 19% All unattached individuals 283, , ,465 Number of low-income individuals 95, , ,380 Incidence of low income 34% 34% 38% All persons in private households 2,103,230 2,233,380 2,446,700 All persons in low income 337, , ,525 Incidence of low income 16% 19% 23% profile TORONTO 7

8 The Geography of Income in the City of Toronto Census data is released for Census Tracts. A Census Tract is a small area defined by Statistics Canada, usually with population between 2,500 and 8,000. There are 527 census tracts in the City of Toronto (shown on Map 6). To examine the spatial distribution of income across the City, Census Tracts have been used to describe change at the neighbourhood level. Median household income levels by neighbourhood show a distinct geographic pattern (Map 3). High-income neighbourhoods are clustered primarily in the center of the City, in central Etobicoke and eastern Scarborough. There is a lower-income Dissimilarity Index The Index of Dissimilarity shows the extent to which different income groups live separately from each other. Each row in the table below compares two groups (e.g., high-income groups versus low-income groups; or lowincome groups versus all other income groups). The higher the Index, the more one group is spatially separated corridor in the west running northwest from the downtown and a mix of middleto moderate-income neighbourhoods in the east and northeast portion of the City with pockets of low income. Despite this pattern, the geography of income is not straightforward. In most neighbourhoods there is more of a range of household incomes than Map 3 would imply. For example, of the 527 City Census Tracts, only 23 (4%) have more than 40% low-income households (earning under $22,500), and they account for 11% of the City s lowincome households. On the other hand 65 Census Tracts (12%) have more than 40% high-income households (earning from the other group. The lower the Index, the more the two groups are mixed together. The value can range from 0 to 100, where a value of 100 means the group is totally separate from the group it is being compared with, and a value of 0 means it has the same distribution as the other group. The calculation is based on the size of each group in every Census Tract. Dissimilarity Index Values for Households of Different Income Groups in the City of Toronto Income Group Index Value Group 1 Group Low income High income High income All other households Low income All other households Middle income All other households above $90,000) and they account for 23% of the City s high-income households (Map 4). The mixing of incomes across the City is most evident when looking at the distribution of low, middle and highincome households shown on Map 5. Low-income households (less than $22,500) are shown by red dots, highincome households (over $90,000) by blue dots, and middle-income households ($22,500 - $90,000) by grey dots. Although there are pockets of predominantly low- or high-income households, the rich and poor are spread widely in neighbourhoods throughout the City. Most areas of predominantly high-income households have some low-income households, and vice versa. Middle-income households (grey dots) are widely dispersed throughout most City neighbourhoods. The Index of Dissimilarity (see Dissimilarity Index ) provides a measure of the mixing of incomes at the neighbourhood level as does the data in Table 8 at a broader scale. The richest and poorest households are, not surprisingly, the two groups most separate from each other with a value of 39 in However, as an index value, this does not indicate a high degree of spatial separation. The low value of the middle-income households compared with all other households (13) shows a significant degree of integration. Note also that the index values remained virtually the same between 1980 and 2000: the extent to which the highest, lowest and middle-income households are mixed geographically across the City has not changed. 8 City of Toronto Urban Development Services September 2004

9 profile TORONTO 9

10 10 City of Toronto Urban Development Services September 2004

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12 Source: Statistics Canada The Changing Geography of Income There was a distinct geography of income change as shown in Figure 7 and Table 8, with sharp differences between the inner City consisting of former Toronto/East York/York, and the outer City of post-war suburbs consisting of former Scarborough/North York/ Etobicoke. In both areas, the relative size of the middle-income group shrank (Table 8). In the inner City, the highincome group grew sharply, while the proportion of low-income households hardly changed. In contrast, the lowincome group grew sharply in the outer City, while the proportion of highincome households remained the same. The outer City saw a 68% increase in low-income households, compared to a 29% increase in the inner city and a 47% increase for the whole City (Figure 7). In contrast, the inner City experienced a 78% increase in highincome households, compared with a City-wide increase of 42% and a 23% increase in the outer City. The rate of change for middle-income households was similar across the City. Source: Statistics Canada What Affects Household Income? Household income is the combined income of all household members with earnings. The compositions of households (e.g., one or two or three person households), as well as the employment and earning status of individuals influence the values of median or average household income. If we look at the median income levels of neighbourhoods, generally the higher the household income level, the higher the educational level, the greater the proportion of owner households and households with two income earners (Table 9). On the other hand, the lower the household income, the more likely it is that that neighbourhood will have a high unemployment, and a high proportion of low-income families, unattached individuals, recent immigrants, female lone parents, renters and those with less than high school education. There are weaker relationships between income level and the number of seniors, those with no income and single detached housing. But no single factor stands out. They all relate differently with neighbourhood income levels across the City. 12 City of Toronto Urban Development Services September 2004

13 Conclusion Household income is a fundamental indicator of the City s social character and its quality of life and neighbourhood character. It provides context for planning decisions and many other City policies and practices as well as being an important indicator in deliberations about the delivery of municipal services. Toronto s median household income in 2000 ($49,345) was actually 6% lower than in 1980 and has been consistently lower than that found in neighbouring municipalities. The income gap has been widening since 1985, both between the City and the fast-growing suburbs, as well as among City neighbourhoods. Over the past two decades Toronto has seen significant increases in the number of lower-income households and higher-income households, and only a small increase in middleincome households. These shifts are explained in part by the influx of new immigrants, who tend to have lower incomes and by an increase in singleperson households. How people of such varied means of support locate in the City is revealing. Compared with 20 years ago, there are more low-income neighbourhoods found in the suburban parts of Toronto while the inner city has seen a rise in income levels. Toronto is home to the lowest income, as well as some of the highest income neighbourhoods in the GTA. Most neighbourhoods have a wide mix of income levels, underscoring one of Toronto s strengths: the incredible diversity of its neighbourhoods. The City needs to be attractive to people of all income levels. This challenge is taken up by the Official Plan. It has policies to strengthen neighbourhoods by preserving the existing rental stock and encouraging development of a mix of housing options that will allow people to live in the City and slow the movement to new suburbs on the fringe. Achieving these goals will not only help to strengthen Toronto s neighbourhoods, they will also contribute to reducing sprawl. profile TORONTO 13

14 14 City of Toronto Urban Development Services September 2004

15 profile TORONTO 15

16 Please direct information inquiries and publication orders to: Policy and Research City Planning Division Urban Development Services Metro Hall, 22nd Floor Toronto, Ontario M5V 3C6 tel: fax: TTY: For more information on neighbourhood profiles, contact Social Policy and Analysis at 16 City of Toronto Urban Development Services September (1000)

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