Feb 14, 2020 Update: I originally chose a sample of cities across Canada so not every single one is in the chart below. Due to popular request here is the data for Ottawa-Gatineau and Edmonton: Ottawa-Gatineau median salary is $40,128. 90th percentile is $97,713. Edmonton has a median income of $56,058. 90th percentile is $134,997.
If you’re like me you probably compare yourself to the people within your industry or social group. In particular, you look at the people you admire as the benchmark for your own success.
If you work in a high paying field like law or finance you are comparing yourself to a small elite group. This group is not representative of society in general. By comparing yourself to the upper echelon of society you likely feel like you are falling behind. However, even the worst paid surgeon makes more than most of the general population.
Reality Check: How Does Your Income Actually Compare?
I dug up some data on incomes in various Canadian cities, from Calgary to Victoria. I then calculated the 50th and 90th percentile incomes for each city for male workers. (The 50th percentile means 50% of the population is below that number. The 90th percentile means 90% of the population is below that number.)
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I displayed the data below for worker salaries in each city. As you can see, 50% of the working population in each Canadian city makes less than a fairly modest income. For example, 50% of workers in Halifax earn less than $40,000.
My point: before worrying about how shitty you’re doing or how you are falling behind, take a look at how the rest of the population is faring. You may be surprised by your own relative success.
Note 1: this data is from 2015 so the Alberta figures may have fallen since due to the challenges in the oil patch.
Note 2: part time student and senior workers likely pull the data down, but this doesn’t change the point.