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Half of British Columbians living paycheque-to-paycheque

Forty-nine per cent of all workers in BC spend all – or more – of their income every month

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 September, 2016, 2:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 September, 2016, 4:15pm

The high cost of living in British Columbia, Canada is taking its toll, with almost half of all workers in the province just scraping by, according to a Canadian Payroll Association report released September 7.

Forty-nine per cent of all workers in BC spend all – or more – of their income every month. This is nine percentage points higher than the national average of 40 per cent.

More than half of all BC respondents (53 per cent) say they would be unable to meet their financial obligations if their pay was delayed by even one week (48 per cent nationally). More than a quarter of all BC workers (27 per cent) say they would likely be unable to scrape up C$2,000 (US$1,555) for an emergency expense within the next month.

Part of the problem, according to the report, is that pay hasn’t increased much in recent years.

“Survey data suggests that household income growth has stalled, as respondents reporting household income above C$100,000 (US$77,736) has hardly increased in five years,” said Alec Milne of research firm Framework Partners.

“In fact, real incomes have actually declined when inflation is taken into account.

Debt, on the other hand, has increased. In this province, 92 per cent of respondents say they carry debt, and 48 per cent said they feel “overwhelmed” by their debt levels. This is the highest level in Canada, with the national average at 39 per cent. Thirty-two per cent of BC workers say their debt has increased this year alone, and 11 per cent say they will probably never be debt-free.

Higher wages wasn’t noted as the top priority for respondents in British Columbia, however. While 31 per cent said they wanted a higher wage, almost half of all respondents (46 per cent) said their top concern is striking a better work-life balance.