Thursday, April 15, 2004

The rich do get richer, and the poor poorer

It's official - the rich do get rich while the poor get poorer.

Especially in B.C.

BC Stats reports that the income gap between the richest and poorest British Columbians has been steadily widening.

"Urban inequality in BC increased over the last two decades, as the gap between the lowest and highest-income earners expanded in both Victoria and Vancouver," BC Stats reported.
The findings come from a Statistics Canada study that compared incomes in 27 urban areas across Canada.

B.C. topped the list both for the income gap and the rate of increase in the chasm between rich and poor.
In Vancouver the poorest tenth of the population saw their real income fall 11 per cent between 1980 and 2000. Meanwhile, the wealthiest 10 per cent had a real income - that's income adjusted for inflation - nine-per-cent higher than in 1980.

Back in 1980 the top 10 per cent of the population had incomes on average 5.3 times as large as their counterparts on the bottom of the economic ladder. But by 2000, they were earning 6.4 times as much as the tenth of the population with the lowest incomes in Vancouver.

Results were similar in Victoria, where the poorest 10 per cent saw their incomes rise two per cent over 20 years. The top tenth of the population had an average increase of 14 per cent.
The gap between rich and poor in Vancouver is the greatest in Canada.

The increasing inequality may be linked to immigration levels, the BC Stats review found. Recent immigrants made up 16.6 per cent of the Vancouver population in 2000, up from 10.3 per cent in 1980.

"New immigrants often experience a period of relatively low income while they establish themselves in the new country," the report said. More new immigrants means more low-income earners.

The study found that new immigrants are increasingly likely to wind up with low-paying jobs. In 1980 about one in fine recent immigrant was working at a low-income level.

"This suggests that new immigrants are becoming increasingly isolated, economically, from the mainstream of society," the report suggested.

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