The Middle Class In Canada Is Now Doing Better Than The Middle Class In America

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

For most of Canada's existence, it has been regarded as the weak neighbor to the north by most Americans.  Well, that has changed dramatically over the past decade or so.  Back in the year 2000, middle class Canadians were earning much less than middle class Americans, but since then there has been a dramatic shift.  At this point, middle class Canadians are actually earning more than middle class Americans are.  The Canadian economy has been booming thanks to a rapidly growing oil industry, and meanwhile the U.S. middle class has been steadily shrinking.  If current trends continue, a whole bunch of other countries are going to start passing us too.  The era of the "great U.S. middle class" is rapidly coming to a bitter end.

In recent years, I have been up to Canada frequently, and I am always amazed at how much nicer things are up there.  The stores and streets are cleaner, the people are more polite and it seems like almost everyone that wants to work has a job.

But despite knowing all this, I was still surprised when the New York Times reported this week that middle class incomes in Canada have now surpassed middle class incomes in the United States...

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

And things are particularly dire for those in the U.S. on the low end of the scale...

The struggles of the poor in the United States are even starker than those of the middle class. A family at the 20th percentile of the income distribution in this country makes significantly less money than a similar family in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland or the Netherlands. Thirty-five years ago, the reverse was true.

Even while our politicians and the media continue to proclaim that everything is "just fine", the U.S. middle class continues to slide toward oblivion.

The biggest reason for this is the lack of middle class jobs.  Millions of good jobs have been shipped overseas, and millions of other good jobs have been replaced by technology.

The value of our labor is declining with each passing day, and this has forced millions upon millions of very qualified Americans to take whatever they can get.  As NBC News recently noted, this is a big reason why the temp industry has been booming...

For Americans who can't find jobs, the booming demand for temp workers has been a path out of unemployment, but now many fear it's a dead-end route.


With full-time work hard to find, these workers have built temping into a de facto career, minus vacation, sick days or insurance. The assignments might be temporary — a few months here, a year there — but labor economists warn that companies' growing hunger for a workforce they can switch on and off could do permanent damage to these workers' career trajectories and retirement plans.


"It seems to be the new norm in the working world," said Kelly Sibla, 54. The computer systems engineer has been looking for a full-time job for four years now, but the Amherst, Ohio, resident said she has to take whatever she can find.

It has been estimated that one out of every ten jobs is now filled by a temp agency.  I have worked for temp agencies myself in the past.  Big companies like the idea of having "disposable workers", and this is a trend that is likely to only grow in the years ahead.

But temp jobs and part-time jobs don't pay as well as normal jobs.  And those kinds of jobs generally cannot support middle class families.

At this point, nine out of the top ten occupations in the United States pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year.

That is absolutely stunning.

These days most families are barely scraping by, and they don't have much extra money to go shopping with.

This is a big reason for the "retail apocalypse" that we are now witnessing.  This week we learned that retail stores in the United States are closing at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  But you won't hear much about that on the mainstream news.

You can find lots of "space available" signs and empty buildings in formerly middle class neighborhoods all over the country.  For example, one of my readers recently shot the following YouTube video in Scottsdale, Arizona.  As you can see, empty commercial buildings are all over the place...

As the middle class shrinks, more families are being forced to take in family members that can't find decent work.  I have written previously about the huge rise in the number of young adults that are moving back in with their parents.  But this is not just happening to young people.  As the Los Angeles Times recently detailed, the number of Americans 50 and older that are moving in with their parents has absolutely soared in recent years...

For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents' homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.


The jump is almost exclusively the result of financial hardship caused by the recession rather than for other reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents, said Steven P. Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health who crunched the data.


"The numbers are pretty amazing," Wallace said. "It's an age group that you normally think of as pretty financially stable. They're mid-career. They may be thinking ahead toward retirement. They've got a nest egg going. And then all of a sudden you see this huge push back into their parents' homes."

The U.S. economy is slowly but steadily falling apart, and more people fall out of the middle class every single day.

A recent Gallup survey found that 14 percent of all Americans would experience "significant financial hardship" within one week of a job loss.

An additional 29 percent of all Americans would experience "significant financial hardship" within one month of a job loss.

That means that 43 percent of the entire country is living right on the edge.

It is no wonder why only about 30 percent of all Americans believe that we are moving in the right direction as a nation.

Most people know deep down that something is seriously wrong.  But most people can't explain exactly what that is or how to fix it.

Meanwhile, the politicians and the media keep telling us that if we just keep doing the same old things that everything will work out okay somehow.  The blind are leading the blind, and we are rapidly marching toward disaster.

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Midas's picture

I think we're getting hosed, eh?

knukles's picture

This is all beginning to make as much sense as Barney and Betty Hill's Abduction Experience.
If you like your abduction experience you can keep your abduction experience
Those who do not remember their Abduction Experiences are Doomed to Repeat their Abduction Experiences. 

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Maybe this author wants to ignore the enormous real estate bubble in Canada. The one that will trash its economy just as quickly as the US.

fonestar's picture

It's because people in Canada have adopted Bitcoin quicker than people in the United States.

CrazyCooter's picture

LMAO Fonestar, that is almost as good as RobotTrader!

I came for the Bob and Doug McKenzie links dammit!

Step it up ZH'ers!



Jreb's picture

Personally - I come for the Canuck bashing. I'll keep reading.... hopefully I won't be dissapointed.

Kaloookuku kaloooookuuukuuuuu!

dogbreath's picture

This situation will have to be rectified

Richard Chesler's picture

Small price to pay for the privilege of being raped by Obozocare and Jamie's bonus.

Bindar Dundat's picture

It's so cold in winter that all the bums without jobs freeze to death or move to Florida.


Tengri Temujin's picture

They do better because they don't have to pay for 6000 some odd military installations and deal with all the illegal immigrants and their strain on the system.

quebecgold's picture

That was inevitable with Harper/Obama as leaders of respective countries. Harper is focussed on reducing debt and limiting government intervention and it's paying off. 

Bindar Dundat's picture

Now, Canada and the U.S. share an important imigration problem -- poor on their southern border wanting to get jobs and good medical care by going north.

nmewn's picture

And frostbite too.

Its fantastic!

max2205's picture

Back to watching Beverly Hillbillies reruns

nmewn's picture

The one about still making is very informative.

Gets cold in a lot of places, where one needs some anti-freeze ;-)

Toxicosis's picture

Fonestar stop being stupid.  Bitcoin will not save the day no matter what country you abide in.  And as a Canadian, please take offense to this.  You're a fucking idiot!!


Our debt to personal income is only matched by South Korea.  Nothing to proud of.  Our real estate collapse will be epic, and bitcoin will not save anybody's ass.  But good luck to ya, you're gonna need it.



Lore's picture

BTC is still pretty fringe. I know of one ATM at a metrohippie coffee shop in Vancouver: World's first bitcoin ATM opens in Vancouver (29-Oct-2013). To my mind, any operation that requires biometrics is feeding the beast.

On the matter of Canadian middle class, Canadians are just as much in debt as Americans. The real estate market is topped, with a big disconnect between sellers and buyers. Family real estate agents are frustrated by "unrealistic expectations" on the part of sellers who think it's still 2006. Retail spending is in the tank. Malls are practically deserted, except for the food courts. High end shops are deserted. Furniture stores are closing. Department stores might as well close, for all the traffic they aren't seeing. Touristy areas are in a panic, as visitor spending has dried up. Locals desperate to save money are discarding "Buy Local" rhetoric and flocking to Wal-Mart. 

You see symptoms of hardship in the way people dress. People look like shit! Quality is gone. New clothing looks like dumpster trash. All stores seem to be targeting the lowest common denominator: young people with maxed-out credit cards and no standards. Women have given up styling their hair, letting it hang in shreds. Trends in America always take a couple extra years to reach Canada, but decline is obvious for those with eyes to see. It's fascinating.

Tengri Temujin's picture

I watch those property brothers on HGTV and they operate out of Toronto area with their shows and I am blown away how expensive permafrost can be.  They are in for a ruuuude awakening real soon.

countryboy42's picture

Scene: fonestar if shtf, with his laptop and a cheap .32 in his pocket.

Fonestar gets to the front of the line

Guy behind the counter: "Yeah, what you got for trade?"

Fonestar: "I have this super secret squrril safe with Bitcoin in it!"

Guy behind the counter, with all the good (needed) stuff, plus goons: "Bitcoin? How am I supposed to redeem that shit? Got any hook up with your ISP lately?"

Fonestar with a look of anguish......I'm not a writer, I'll leave the rest to you.

Zero Point's picture

It'll be interesting to see whose bubble bursts first.

Australia... Or Canada...

The race is on. My money is on Australia, I bet 5 Zim dollars.

UselessEater's picture

money on aust = a good bet

a better bet is a rolling pin on a few national bubbles around the world that crush ponzi schemes using a domino effect required by TPTB to extract maximum debt obligations and destruction of the middle class

these freaks have had live practice scenarios; in the mean time enjoy the bail-in legisation, wealth tax and other shit they use the IMF to float prior to the legislators covertly adopting

McMolotov's picture

The Canadian RE bubble should burst soon since Canada's usually around a decade behind the US.

"The '80s didn't come to Canada til like '93." —Robin Scherbatsky

kaiserhoff's picture

Yes and no.

I always enjoy Canada, but like Belgium, it's a stretch to call it a country.  Half the population lives within 50 miles of the US Border.  The French speakers are in open rebellion, whenever they can afford it.  The Prairie provinces think they are Midwesterners, and the West does its own damn thing, good on them.  Only in Ontario, do you find people thinking of themselves as Canadians.

Hosed?  You got that right.

msamour's picture

What are you talking about Willis? I've traveled everywhere in Canada, and people are nowhere near what you describe. I'm also French Canadian, and there is no rebelion happening here. Infact, people here just voted a majority provincial Liberal government, which are not separatists.

You may want to have a better look next time you come to visit. It also helps to slow your car down while visiting too, that way you actually get to meet some of the people here.


kaiserhoff's picture

Ah, but the Maritimes are poor as church mice.  Coal and fishing economies are in the toilet.

When gold goes up Quebec will feel its oats again, and you'll all be as happy as the Irish;)

disabledvet's picture

see below "and then in a fit of jealous rage...
only this time we'll take Toronto Mr. President. We look forward to resistance."

wee-weed up's picture

Canada is run by socialists also, but almost anyone can do better than the Obozo socialists!

Jreb's picture

I'm never dissapointed by a Canadian thread.

BTW - we're pot smoking gun toting socialists. Get it right.

Matt's picture

Canada consumes half as much oil as it produces.

America produces half as much oil as it consumes.

I wonder if this has any effect ...

Lore's picture

Nice catch. Canada's borders are not secure.

Merger of the Century (Diane Francis, 2013)

Interview at McLaughlin,com (c/o YouTube, 18-Apr-2014)

Herodotus's picture

As an American, a merger would only be acceptable if the Queen becomes head of state of the combined entity and Obama is sent packing.

Lore's picture

Reconsider that. You don't ever want monarchy again. Especially not THIS bunch.

StandardDeviant's picture

Diane Francis: now there's a name I haven't heard for a while.

Used to enjoy her writing, particularly Underground Nation.  I haven't read this latest yet, but the premise sounds completely mad.  What Canadian today would want to become part of the US, with its out-of-control agencies (NSA, IRS, FBI, ...), out-of-control debt, dysfunctional federal gov't, worldwide taxation of non-residents, FATCA, and on and on?

A merger like this would be a reason to give up one's passport, it really would.

Newfie's picture

Being a Canadian I can say first hand that our country is nothing without the United States.

All the down votes are the Canadians out there that are in complete denial.

We depend on the US for defense thus our sovereignty.

We believe the governments job is to look after us.

We are arrogant in our thinking that we are the best country in the world

Our economy is reliant on the US.

We do everything we can not to be categorized as Americans.

Most Canadians think the 2nd amendment is for barbarians.

The leader of Liberal party of Canada says we should be more like China and also says we could use a dictatorship.

I am neither right or left but our politics and our morale high ground is delusional.

kaiserhoff's picture

Canada has some of the safest cities left in the world.  White people have retained their European cultures to a fascinating degree, and the chicks are downright fun.  Traveling in Canada is worth doing, because it's not all the same damn strip malls and burger joints.

Now about your ten foot merge lanes at 85 MPH;)

Seer's picture

"Now about you ten foot merge lanes at 85 MPH;)"

And, well, while I might have the attention of a Canadian or two:  Could you PLEASE learn to drive a steady speed on our freeways and hiways?  Fuck, I come up behind you when you're going under the speed limit (as I have cruise on) and just when I'm passing you you THEN speed up!  WTF?  It's not a competition.  I just want to go a steady speed, not like I'm humping the fucking accelerator!  This goes for ALL Canadians.  I fucking weirds me out on how predictable and consistent you all are in this regard.

nmewn's picture

This would be where the Floridian interjects and requests that Canadians stop haggling over a nickel while ten people stand behind them in line, have some courtesy...just lay it down...don't buy it.

And for God's sake, stop making left turns from the right lane ;-)

unrulian's picture

Please... we'll stop haggling over a nickel when you stop sending carloads of tourists with skis in July hoping to get a little powder and please stop with the black socks and shorts or socks with sandals :)

kaiserhoff's picture

I want mein Iced Tea, DAMMIT.

You got tea.  Gawd knows you got ice.  If you combined the ice with the tea, watcha think might happen?  Apparantly the end of the world, cause I can't get an iced tea for love nor money in Canada.

                            End of Rant,  Happy to mix my own;)

nmewn's picture



The only time I was in Canada was when I went to a wedding in Detroit (well, outside Detroit)...went over to Windsor. Ate dinner, had a few drinks, seemed pretty normal.

But it was the fall, anything below 70F is cold to a cracker, you won't find me on your ski slopes, with or without flip flops on ;-)

Lore's picture

One thing about being Canadian: get in an accident or have a medical emergency and you don't have to worry about being ruined financially by hospital bills.

Tengri Temujin's picture

Yep they will just conveniently take their time to get to you in the hopes you will be dead and not a strain on the system.

robertocarlos's picture

Those aren't merge lanes. You are supposed to stop dead and wait for a break in the 85 mph traffic. Then you light the after-burners on your V-12 Ferrari and merge.

Jreb's picture

"The chicks are downright fun"

Since we're srunning stereotypes we may as well mention how hot our women are too. Married to a hot canuck chick for close to 20 years. She's not as much fun as when we were 21 but the cold weather still makes her sleep real close at night. I guess the Swedes and Nowegians could say the same.... just when you think you're special....

Spitzer's picture

Canadian born women are looney kunts. I'll take an immigrant from any end of the world every time. And we are well diversified.

countryboy42's picture

All women are loony, it just finding the level of lunacy that's right for you. There's your match.

Edit: Well, that and something you want to wake up to.

NoDebt's picture

You should have stopped before adding the edit.  After 16 years of marriage, I don't care if I'm waking up next to Gisele Bundchen (and/or her sister).  Mostly what I want is for all of them to shut the fuck up and not talk to me about ANYTHING.  There is NOTHING that any woman talks about that isn't complete and utter insanity to a man.