EDITORIAL: Struggle not getting easier

Your rising wages over the last decade aren’t keeping up with the cost of goods and services

If you get the feeling your rising wages over the last decade aren’t keeping up with the cost of goods and services, you’re right.

With Statistics Canada releasing its latest batch of data from the 2016 census, we find that median household income in B.C. rose 12.6 per cent between 2005 and 2015.That parallels the B.C. increase of 12.2 per cent over that period.

Sounds like good news, but the rate of inflation in B.C. over that decade was 18.9 per cent, more than 50 per cent higher than the jump in wages.

So how are we surviving? Tough to say. Interest rates are considerably lower, so there’s that.

But in what is described as a booming B.C. economy, clearly not enough is trickling down to the middle and lower classes. (The one-percenters, however, are still doing OK. One per cent of the population made more than $250,000 in 2015. That’s up a third over 2005.)

Those at the low end, and even much of the middle class, increasingly struggle due to the disparity in rising wages and inflation.

Of course, the biggest hurdle in all of this is real estate and rental prices. Income may have risen 12.6 per cent, inflation may have been 18.9 per cent, but the price of the average house has gone up nearly 100 per cent in many markets. So here we are in 2017. What’s next?

The outgoing BC Liberals touted balanced budgets and a strong economy as a reason to vote them in again. But even in the strong economy they took credit for, many couldn’t find affordable housing, and working-class wages remained stagnant.

Time will tell if the recent change in government in Victoria – and tax changes in Ottawa – will help the trickle turn to a flow or, as the new BC Liberals in opposition claim, NDP policy will stifle the economy and we’ll all suffer more.

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