Median incomes plunge in Calgary, surge in Edmonton

Median income in Calgary plunged by more than 15 per cent in 2015, while in Edmonton it grew by more than 13 per cent, according to new data released Friday by Statistics Canada.

New data shows, again, how differently Alberta's downturn has affected its 2 largest cities, economist says

Income levels in Calgary and Edmonton veered in opposite directions as the oil-price downturn gripped Alberta in 2015. (Ed Middleton/CBC, Todd Garant/Facebook)

Median income in Calgary plunged by more than 15 per cent in 2015, according to new data released Friday by Statistics Canada, marking the second-worst decline on record for the city.

Edmonton, meanwhile, experienced its second-largest increase on record, with income levels surging by more than 13 per cent from the year before.

The divergence is yet another indicator how differently Alberta's downturn has impacted its two largest cities, said University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe.

"You do see that in lots of other data, as well," Tombe said.

"It looks like the downturn hit Calgary particularly hard ... relative to Edmonton."

Median income in Calgary dropped to $80,100 in 2015, down from $94,700 the year before.

In Edmonton, meanwhile, median income reached $88,900, up from $78,400.

Both cities still outpace the national median by a wide margin.

The figures in this measure include total income for "economic families" and "persons not living in an economic family," defined as individuals living alone or with people to whom they are not related, such as roommates or lodgers.

Not since 1983 have incomes in Calgary plunged by this much in a single year.

And not since 1993 have incomes in Edmonton grown so quickly.

Tombe noted Calgary has experienced heavier job losses during the downturn in oil prices, and that drags down income levels for both families and individuals in the city.

"The job losses here were typically those head office jobs, which you might think are those that pay a relatively high amount," he said.

"Even if you're not losing your job, you might see your hours cut back and that shrinks your annual income. And they just might not be seeing that same dynamic in Edmonton."

Edmonton women buck trend

The Statistics Canada data, which is based on a combination of surveys and tax filings, does show fewer people working full-time, year round in Calgary.

The number of full-year, full-time male workers dropped 12.3 per cent in 2015. Among women, the number was down 6.6 per cent.

In Edmonton, the number of men working full-time, year-round was also down, by 10.4 per cent — but among women the number actually grew by 10.8 per cent.

The median income of women who worked full-time hours all year in Edmonton also grew by 4.4 per cent, at the same time.