It might be the average, but is it reality?

Staff ~ The Prince Albert Daily Herald
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We come bearing good news today.

Apparently your net worth rose nearly eight per cent in 2013, putting your value at $442,130.

At least if you’re a mythical average Canadian, that’s what you would be worth. We’ll put aside the fact that the obscenely rich among us have enough money to skew the average, even with the poor folks among us dragging the average in the other direction.

This number, based on data from 121 financial and investment statistics from a variety of sources, found that the new data indicates that stock portfolios grew, savings were on the rise and mortgage debt ticked up only modestly.

In Saskatchewan, the household net worth grew by 7.4 per cent, just below the national average of 7.7 per cent.

The number reflected a 9.1 per cent increase in the value of liquid assets that was more than offset by a 7.6 per cent hike in consumer debt.

Environics senior researcher Peter Miron suggested that the study, which was released last week, shows Saskatchewan residents are betting on the province’s future.

“A lot of people moved to Saskatchewan to take advantage of the resource-based jobs and they sparked an economic boom,” Miron said. “But now the real estate market is starting to cool off while incomes are staying high. Taking on more debt is a belief in better days to come.”

The debt-to-disposable income ratio actually increased in Saskatchewan -- along with Newfoundland and Manitoba -- because people were taking on more debt rather than paying it down.

To our credit, consumer debt across the country from credit cards, loans and lines of credit was unchanged from a year earlier. Since consumer debt was flat compared with 2012 while mortgage debt increased more slowly than the value of real estate or investments.

Not surprisingly, Canada’s three richest cities are Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary. With the high value of real estate, the average household has $533,172 worth of real estate holdings, which puts them a big step ahead of many homeowners elsewhere.

Of course those numbers also make entering the market virtually unaffordable, which could create a reckoning one day if the bottom rung of the market disappears.

The numbers are neat but we remain a little suspicious of any study that purports to show what the “average” Canadian is on anything economic, because the discrepancies in wealth are so massive. You don’t need a masters in statistical studies to know that when the average is not that high, one truly wealthy person displaces a lot of people who sadly have little.

Canadian Business posted their rankings of the nation’s wealthiest people earlier this year. The top 78 all have more than $1 billion while No. 100 on the list, director James Cameron, makes due with $727.7 million.

That may be a titanic accomplishment but we have a sinking feeling that the rest of us will continue to what we can with what we have, regardless of where the average lies.


Prince Albert Daily Herald

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