Just how stretched are middle-class Canadians?

“It’s enough to make middle-class Canadians go dizzy. One set of numbers suggests their wages are stagnating and they’re mired in debt. Then another set comes along suggesting the net worth of those same Canadians has been rising quite healthily. Politicians are hoping to spin those numbers to court voters, but trying to assess the true economic state of the middle class is not as simple as they might like Canadians to think. ‘Two political parties are focusing very much on this,’ says Charles Beach, a retired economics professor from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.” according to March 17th, 2013 cbcnews.ca article. “‘You can see how the Liberal Party is focusing more on [how] incomes particularly in the labour market have just not been keeping up, whereas Conservatives are focusing more on ‘Hey, look, net worth is going up.’ ‘They’re both pointing to evidence which is true. It’s out there, but it’s selective.’ Everyone can agree on what the basic evidence is, says Beach. It’s provided by Statistics Canada, which offers up reams of data on incomes and how they’ve changed over the years, along with other information such as the net worth of Canadians. Some people will opt for a rosier picture that real incomes are going up, but others will say if they are going up, it’s only slowly ‘and it’s because we’re working harder to get it, so we’re stretched to maintain the standard of living, to say nothing of getting ahead,’ Beach says.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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