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Earnings and Incomes of Canadians Over the Past Quarter Century, 2006 Census: Introduction

Statistics Canada today releases data on earnings and income from the 2006 Census. The first part of this report examines changes in 'earnings,' which refers to income from employment – wages and salaries, as well as net income from self-employment.

The second part of this report looks at 'family earnings,' that is, income from employment received by all members of an economic family. An economic family is defined as all persons related by blood, marriage or adoption and living in the same dwelling.

The third and final part of the report examines 'incomes of families,' which refer to incomes from all sources, including wages and salaries, government transfer payments, investments, retirement pensions, and so on.

All earnings and income results are for the calendar year preceding the census. So, in the case of the 2006 Census, earnings and income data refer to 2005. Results for 2005 are frequently compared to earlier census findings for 2000, 1990 or 1980.

All dollar figures are expressed in terms of their value, or purchasing power, in 2005. This is referred to in the report as '2005 constant dollars.'

In all three parts of the report, median amounts are reported. Median amounts are earnings or income levels that divide the population into two halves, i.e., half of the population receiving less than this amount, and half, more.

For the first time in 2006, the census offered respondents the option to have Statistics Canada access their tax records rather than complete the census income questions. 82.4% of all respondents completing the census long form chose the tax option. There are some differences between tax data and self-reported income data – the former are generally more precise and small amounts are better reported. Additionally, the use of tax data means that the census can produce estimates of after-tax income.

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