Manitoba families struggling to get ahead: Study

February 21, 2008

WINNIPEG – Manitoba families are working harder but the vast majority is struggling to get ahead, says a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The study, Stuck in Neutral, finds 80 per cent of Manitoba families are putting more time in the paid workforce than they did a mere decade ago but they are taking home a smaller share of the income pie compared to a generation ago.

The study also finds Manitoba’s income gap between the rich and the rest of us is smaller than the national average, but disturbing trends have been unfolding in the last decade.

“Manitoba is a great place to live, but increasingly it’s harder to make work pay,” says study author Ian Hudson, CCPA research associate.

“When the majority of families spend more time working for a shrinking or stagnant paycheque, there is a problem,” says CCPA Senior Economist Armine Yalnizyan, an expert in income inequality in Canada. Yalnizyan is in Winnipeg for a public speech at the Union Centre at 7 pm tonight.

The study examined earnings and after-tax income changes over a 30-year period, comparing Manitoba with national averages – the first study of its kind. It found:

  • The richest Manitobans were much better off in 2004 than in the late-1970s;
  • Real earnings dropped or remained unchanged for an alarming 40% of Manitoba families raising children under 18;
  • Earnings are stagnant or dropping despite the reality that Manitobans are working more hours than they had just a decade ago;
  • Most families (but not the highest earning families) have worked more annual weeks for their stagnant incomes;
  • The income gap between the richest and poorest Manitoba families is growing, but not as quickly as national averages – and the after-tax income gap isn’t growing as fast, which means government policies make a difference;
  • Incomes of the working poor aren’t increasing over time, which means there is more to be done to help bridge the gap between a low-paying labour market and the need for vital services such as affordable housing, child care and post-secondary education.

Stuck in Neutral is available at and

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For more information please contact: Shauna MacKinnon, CCPA-Manitoba 204-927-3202.