The latest census data suggests the average family in the Toronto region has a little less in its wallets than it did the last time Statistics Canada asked people about how much money they make.

New information from the 2006 census released Thursday indicates the median income for families in and around Toronto was $75,829 — a decrease from the 2001 census, when it was $77,693 when adjusted for inflation.

The 2.4 per cent decrease compares to a national increase in income of 3.7 per cent and a provincial increase of 1.4 per cent.

Individuals in the metropolitan Toronto area had a median income of $26,754. Five years earlier, the median income was $28,700.

The census data also indicates the gender wage gap decreased.

Men in the Toronto region typically earned $51,235 compared to $41,284 for women — meaning women made on average only 81 per cent of what men earned. Five years earlier, the gap was 78 per cent in favour of men.

People aged 25 to 34 — generally the age range when younger people are getting established in the workforce — had a median income of $29,961. Senior citizens in and around Toronto had a median income of $20,724.

Statistics Canada also looked at how people in the lowest and highest earnings brackets fared over the five-year period.

The median earnings for lower-income workers — those in the bottom 20 per cent of earners in the region —  decreased by 10.1 per cent to $17,071. Those at the high end — in the top 20 per cent — saw their income increase by 3.9 per cent to $98,358.

Education impacts earnings

Statistics Canada does not have a standard definition for the term "poverty line."

Instead, it uses a formula that looks at families who need to spend a high proportion of their income on basic necessities like food, shelter and clothing. In the Toronto region, Statistics Canada says, 15.7 per cent of families fell into this low-income category.

Not surprisingly, the level of education has a direct impact on earnings. Among people in the Toronto area:

  • University-educated people earned a median wage of $58,245.
  • College grads made $45,513.
  • Trade or apprentice school grads made $43,279.
  • People with only a high school diploma made $39,963.
  • Those with no secondary school diploma made $34,893.

Immigrants living in the Toronto region typically had a median wage of 10.8 per cent less than the median wage of all those in Toronto. Across the country, the census shows that immigrants made less on the job than the average Canadian — $39,523 compared to a national median wage of $41,401.

The earnings information released by Statistics Canada is for what's known as the census metropolitan area of Toronto, which represents the city's core boundary as well as outlying suburban areas.

The data is based on information gathered in the 2006 census where respondents were asked for their total income during 2005. Income can include earnings from a job, investments and government programs.

While Statistics Canada regularly reports on economic factors at the national and provincial level, the census is the only vehicle that provides a detailed look at income and earnings at the community level.

The data published Thursday is the final release of material from the 2006 census.

Previously, Statistics Canada revealed information about the population of Toronto in a wide range of areas, including age and sex breakdowns, education, immigration and language.

The next census is scheduled to be conducted in May 2011.