Canada now has the highest level of college and university graduates in the Organisation Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and average earnings reflect this. In 2001 they rose for the first time above 30,000 per year, to $31,757. Unfortunately, many Canadians are not sharing equitably in these increased earnings. The groups most likely to be earning less are younger Canadians, women, immigrants, and aboriginals. While the number of earners making more than $80,000 a year soared in the 1990s, the proportion of Canadians making $20,000 or less remained unchanged since 1981 at about 41% - and more of these low earners now have University degrees.
Younger Canadians are clearly at a disadvantage at present: while full-time workers under the age of forty are earning less now than they did ten years ago, those over forty are earning more. This despite the fact that there are now considerably less workers aged 25-34, which would be expected to increase the earnings of that age group. One exception to this rule is among young female workers: while they still earn 19% less than their male counterparts, this is a smaller gap than is seen in the population as a whole.
Overall, women made 64% as much as men, and women working full-time are still earning only 70% as much as their male counterparts. This gap persists even though women account for a significant proportion of the increase in workers with University degrees. Immigrant women on average made only 64% as much as their male colleagues.
The relative earnings of immigrants have continued to decline: male immigrants, aged 25-54, who came to Canada during the 1990s, made almost 25% less than their Canadian-born counterparts - despite the fact that 40% of working age immigrants have a university degree, compared to 23% of Canadian-born workers.
The proportion of Aboriginal Canadians earning University degrees increased by 5% in the last five years, but remained much lower than that for Canadians as a whole, at 8%.