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Statistics show Canadians’ household net worth has topped $400K

OTTAWA | July 26,2013 | 

Canadians Richer than everA new report by Environics Analytics puts Canadian household net worth at the start of the year at more than $400,000 for the first time in history — although it only rose above the mark by $151.

The average household’s net worth grew by 5.8 % at the end of last year from $378,093 at the end of 2011, thanks to a 5.4% gain in liquid assets and a 5.1% increase in real estate values, the report says.

Meanwhile, debt rose by a modest 3.3 per cent.

Canadians Richer than ever

The new calculation keeps Canadian households ahead of their U.S. counterparts in terms of net worth for the sixth straight year — C$400,151 compared with US$381,086.

At the time, the two dollars were worth about the same, but Canada’s loonie has since lost ground to the U.S. greenback. At current rates, the U.S. net worth would be equivalent to C$391,871.

The gap has also narrowed since the end of 2011 — in part because Canadian households continued to borrow and American household debt declined 2.4 per cent.

Most measures of Canadian household finances have tended to focus on the high level of debt, which in the past year has topped 160 per cent of disposable income, one of the highest ratios in the world.

Analysts note that along with a lot of debt, Canadians hold real assets, particularly the highest level of home ownership in history. Home prices in most parts of Canada have steadily risen despite a weak economy, and equity markets have recovered most of the losses of the 2008-09 recession.

The Bank of Canada, which has long warned about high debt levels, noted last week Canadian households are becoming more cautious both in retail spending and in real estate purchases, the latter due, in part, to stricter mortgage rules that came into effect last July.

The household-wealth calculation does not take into account government debt, which is far higher in the United States than in Canada.

The data show households in Regina had the biggest jump in net worth last year, rising 11.2 per cent to $391,826. That was fuelled by the strongest growth in real estate holdings among cities and the second-fastest rise in liquid assets, behind Saskatoon, Environics Analytics said.

Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto remain Canada’s wealthiest cities.

Provincially, the report singles out Saskatchewan households as the big gainers in 2012 in terms of net worth, an increase of 7.6 per cent to $351,865, as liquid assets grew by 7.4 per cent and real estate holdings by 7.7 per cent. The improvement was achieved despite a 7.4 per cent uptick in average household debt to $100,437.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2013

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