Passing up prime rib for sirloin, Sask. people say they’re trying to stretch dollars further
New figures from Statistics Canada show in a single year, Saskatchewan’s median after-tax income for families and unattached individuals took a 2.3 per cent drop, after being adjusted for inflation.
In its 2016 Canadian Income Survey, released Tuesday, Statistics Canada attributed some of that to a rapid drop in world oil prices in 2016, and weakness in the resource sector.
“This is a broadly based decline,” said Doug Elliott, publisher of Sask Trends Monitor, a newsletter published by the Regina-based consulting firm QED Information Systems.
“We’ve got less money to spend than we had a year ago.”
Saskatchewan’s median after-tax income for families and unattached individuals in 2016 was $59,700. Adjusting for inflation, that represents a 2.3 per cent drop from the previous year.
Elliott said this is unusual because the province has enjoyed year-over-year income growth for all but three of the past 20 years.
‘It’s getting a little tougher’
In Saskatoon, heavy equipment operator Danny Turner said he’s trying to stretch money for bills, food and fuel as he awaits shoulder surgery this week.
“You don’t go with the prime rib or whatever, you’ll go with the sirloin,” Turner said as he loaded groceries into an aging sedan. “I don’t go out and do too much anymore.”
Turner has no pension. The monthly benefits he draws from worker’s compensation were recently reduced.
“I gotta stay positive. I have no choice.” he said. “It’s a little tough trying to find some work and people wanting to employ a guy with a few little disabiltiies.”
Sask. consumers expand loans, credit card debt
Across the parking lot, Rashed Hamad clutched a single bag of groceries. He told CBC his bills are growing, but wages are not.
“Groceries, housing, gas, bills, everything,” Hamad said. “I’m now getting into more and more debt, my credit card balance is going up.”
A recent report from TransUnion said that starting late in 2016 and throughout 2017, Saskatchewan consumers racked up more in loans and lines of credit than the national average.
By the end of last year, TransUnion said the average Saskatoon consumer carried an average of $31,184 in debt from loans, lines of credit and credit cards.
The national average was $29,312.
“We’re just now starting to see delinquency rates drop,” said Matt Fabian, TransUnion’s director of research and industry analysis, noting that may be a sign of more economic stability.
“Generally people will miss credit card payments because the perception is it’s not as big of a deal as if you miss an auto payment or a home payment,” Fabian said.
Loss of high-salary jobs, fewer hours worked
The overall drop in income for Saskatchewan people “came as a bit of a surprise to me,” admitted Elliott.
He said during 2016, average wages in the province rose 3.3 per cent, which means people here have started working fewer hours, or taking jobs with lower pay.
“That’s two years in a row where we’ve had less money to spend than we had the year before,” Elliott said.
He said for unattached individuals living in Saskatchewan in 2016, the drop was even more pronounced.
Their median income fell year-over-year by 13.5 per cent.