“Canada’s population is increasingly racialized. The 2016 census counted 7.7 million racialized individuals in Canada. That number represented 22% of the population, up sharply from 16% just a decade earlier.
Unfortunately, the rapid growth in the racialized population is not being matched by a corresponding increase in economic equality. This paper uses 2016 census data to paint a portrait of income inequality between racialized and non-racialized Canadians. It also looks at the labour market discrimination faced by racialized workers in 2006 and 2016.
Racialized workers are more likely to be active in the workforce than non-racialized workers, either working or trying to find work, but this does not result in better employment outcomes for them. From 2006 to 2016, there was little change to the patterns of employment and earnings inequality along racial and gender lines in Canada.
Overall in 2016, the racialized population had an unemployment rate of 9.2% compared to the non-racialized rate of 7.3%. Racialized women had the highest unemployment rate at 9.6%, followed by racialized men at 8.8%, non-racialized men at 8.2%, and non-racialized women at 6.4%.
In 2015, racialized men earned 78 cents for every dollar that non-racialized men earned. This earnings gap remained unchanged since 2005.
Labour market discrimination continues to be gendered and racialized. Racialized women earned 59 cents for every dollar that non-racialized men earned, while non-racialized women earned 67 cents for every dollar that non-racialized men earned. Little progress was made in reducing this gap over the 10-year period.
This paper also looked at differences in income from wealth between the racialized and non-racialized population. The racialized gap in capital gains is clear: 8.3% of the racialized population over the age of 15 reported capital gains, compared to 11.9% of the non-racialized population. And the average amount of capital gains of non-racialized Canadians ($13,974) is 29% higher than the average amount for racialized Canadians ($10,828).
Investment income shows a similar pattern: 25.1% of the racialized population over the age of 15 reported investment income, compared to 30.8% of the non-racialized population. The average investment income for the non-racialized population ($11,428) is 47% higher than the average for the racialized population ($7,774).
These data provide a glimpse of the likely differences in wealth between racialized and non-racialized Canadians.
These aspects of income inequality, from both employment and wealth, are also visible in the inequality in family incomes. The data show that racialized individuals are more likely to be in families in the bottom half of the income distribution (60%) than non-racialized individuals are (47%).
This paper also explores the relationship between race, immigration and employment incomes.
We saw that non-racialized immigrants do better in the Canadian labour market, and do better sooner, than racialized immigrants do. Moreover, income inequality between racialized and non-racialized Canadians extends to the second and third generations—and beyond. Clearly, immigration is not the only issue.
Among prime-age (25–54 years old) workers, racialized immigrant men earned 71 cents for every dollar that non-racialized immigrant men earned. Racialized immigrant women earned 79 cents for every dollar that non-racialized immigrant women earned. These gaps continue into the second generation and beyond. Second-generation racialized men earned 79 cents for every dollar that second-generation non-racialized men earned. Second-generation racialized women earned 96 cents for every dollar that second-generation non-racialized women earned.
Our analysis also illustrates the importance of understanding the distinct barriers in the labour market faced by different racialized groups. Both men and women who identified as Black had higher labour force participation rates than their non-racialized counterparts. However, they also had higher unemployment rates and bigger wage gaps than the average for all racialized workers. Men who identified as Filipino had much lower unemployment rates than the average for racialized workers and yet had a larger earnings gap, while women who identified as Filipino had lower unemployment rates and a smaller earnings gap than the racialized average.
Addressing the labour market discrimination faced by racialized workers will require a deeper understanding of racism and the different ways it is manifested in the labour market. That understanding needs to be used to shape policy.
Taken together, the data point to an unequivocal pattern of racialized economic inequality in Canada. In the absence of bold policies to combat racism, this economic inequality shows no signs of disappearing.”
Research at a Glance is designed to inform the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) community and other interested parties about recently published, policy-relevant research from government, academic and NGO sources. The views expressed in the documents described do not necessarily reflect those of IRCC.