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Debt picture improves on higher incomes

The ratio of what Canadians owe versus what they have in disposable income moved slightly lower at the end of 2011, Statistics Canada says.

The ratio of what Canadians owe versus what they have in disposable income moved slightly lower at the end of 2011, Statistics Canada says.

The debt-to-income ratio declined to 150.6 per cent in the fourth quarter from 151.9 per cent in the third quarter as personal incomes rose at a faster rate than did consumer debt, according to new data released Thursday by Canada's national data agency.

That means that while our overall debt load increased, our ability to pay it back increased by just a bit more.

The country's national net worth — the total of all Canadians' assets minus what's owed to foreigners — also improved during the fourth quarter, rising 0.8 per cent to $6.6 trillion. A $60-billion increase in the value of non-financial assets (which would include real estate) was responsible for the net worth gain, the agency said.

Per capita, that works out to a net worth of $190,900 per Canadian, compared to $189,700 in the third quarter.   

Household net worth rose almost one per cent, as a result of higher values of equities, mutual funds and pension assets, Statistics Canada said.   

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