Halifax Index 2022

Affordability

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You are viewing the 2022 Halifax Index.

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AFFORDABILITY SUFFERS AS PRICES SOAR AND INCOME STAGGERS

At $48,876, the average household income in Halifax was the second lowest across benchmark cities. With inflation substantially outpacing income growth, affordability took a hit in 2021.

The poverty rate in Halifax was 8.3% in 2020 (latest available data). Although this rate is the highest across benchmark cities, Halifax did experience the second-largest decline since 2015. In terms of income distribution, the share of total income earned by the bottom 50% of the population continued to climb while the share going to the top 5% continued to move down.

Child-care costs in Halifax rose in 2021 and were the second highest across benchmark cities. However, with a new federal-provincial agreement in place, costs will decrease substantially in 2022 and will drop further out to 2025-26 when a target average cost of $10 per day is expected to be reached.

Debt levels dropped even further in 2021 from the lows of 2020. The average non-mortgage debt in 2021 was $20,916, down 7.4% over 2020. Halifax saw record lows in delinquency rates for both mortgage and non-mortgage debts.

Halifax Index 2022
Income & Prices

After household income per capita grew by 3.8% (+$1,781) in 2020, growth was not as robust in 2021 with an increase of only 0.6% (+$271), the lowest among benchmark cities. The reduction in pandemic-related benefits provided by the federal and provincial governments contributed to this slower growth. At $48,876 per capita, Halifax had the second-lowest income across benchmark cities, above only KCW1($48,654).

Moreover, Halifax experienced the highest inflation rate across benchmark cities at 3.7%, 0.4 percentage points higher than the three cities that tied for second place at 3.3%. With higher growth in consumer prices and lower growth in income, Halifax’s purchasing power2declined by 3.2%.

Although the decline is in stark contrast to the 6.6% increase in purchasing power experienced in 2020, all other benchmark cities saw a drop in their purchasing power as well. Consumer price indexes by product groups are not available for Halifax, but Statistics Canada does publish these data at the provincial level. Between 2000 and 2021, consumer prices in Nova Scotia increased 50.6% (CAGR3of 1.9%).

Food and shelter saw price increases of 70.6% and 61.4%, respectively, over the same period. However, prices for clothing and footwear fell by 4.0%. Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and recreational cannabis had the highest price growth across all product groups at 177.2%.

Source: Conference Board of Canada, Major City Insights (Winter 2022)

Household Income per Capita

  • After growing 3.8% in 2020, household income per capita in Halifax grew by 0.6% (+$271) in 2021, the lowest growth across benchmark cities.
  • Halifax’s household income per capita of $48,876 was the second lowest among benchmark cities, just above KCW’s $48,654.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: INCOME-PER-CAPITA.XLSX

Source: Conference Board of Canada, Major City Insights (Winter 2022)

Annual Change in Purchasing Power

  • Halifax had the highest growth in consumer prices (inflation) in 2021 across benchmark cities at 3.7%. There was a 0.4 percentage point difference between Halifax and the second-place cities of St. John’s, Quebec City, and KCW, which all saw inflation of 3.3%.
  • Growth in income per capita did not keep pace with inflation. After 3.8% growth in 2020, household income per capita in Halifax grew only by 0.6% in 2021.
  • With inflation outpacing income growth, purchasing power declined across all benchmark cities in 2021. Halifax had the largest decline with purchasing power falling by 3.2%.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: PURCHASING-POWER.XLSX

Source: Statistics Canada, Consumer Price Index, Table 18-10-0005-01

Consumer Price Index (CPI) by Product Group

  • Consumer prices in Nova Scotia have been growing at a cumulative annual average of 1.9% between 2000 and 2021. However, 2021 saw the highest annual growth since 1991 at 4.1%.
  • Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and recreational cannabis saw the largest growth in prices between 2000 and 2021, increasing by 177.2% for a CAGR of 4.7%.
  • Among other product groups, food (+70.6%), shelter (+61.4%), and transportation (+53.7%) saw the largest price increases over the same period.
  • Only clothing and footwear ended 2021 at a lower price level (-4.0%) than 2000. With an average annual change of -0.2%, prices for this product group have remained fairly stable

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: PRICE-GROWTH.XLSX

Halifax Index 2022
Poverty

Halifax’s poverty rate as measured by the share of the population with income below the Market Basket Measure (MBM)4threshold stood at 8.3% in 2020. Although this was the highest rate across benchmark cities, the decline in the rate between 2015 and 2020 (-9.9 percentage points) was the second largest across the cities. The MBM threshold for Halifax in 2020 was $46,527. Halifax’s MBM threshold grew by 6.3% from 2015 to 2020.

In contrast to the decline in the MBM poverty rate, the share of the population falling into the relative low-income category is trending upwards in some cases. From 2000 through 2019, the share of those ages 18 to 64 categorized as low income rose from 16.2% to 17.4% while the share for those 65 and older increased from 7.4% to 12.0%. The share for those under age 18, however, fell from 24.7% to 20.8%.

The average income for the top 5% of earners in 2019 was $152,400; the average for the bottom 50% was $17,200. The top 5% earned 15.0% of Halifax’s total income while 20.9% was earned by the bottom 50%.

Looking at more detailed income brackets, in 2020, the share of people earning $60,000 was more than 5 percentage points over 2015. There was also a decrease of 10 percentage points in those earning less than $20,000.

Source: Statistics Canada, Custom Request

Poverty Rates by Benchmark Cities

  • The poverty rate in Halifax, defined as the share of the population with after-tax income below the MBM threshold, was 8.3% in 2020.
  • Between 2015 and 2020, Halifax saw the second-largest decrease in the poverty rate (-9.9 percentage points) across benchmark cities, after Victoria (-13.5 percentage points).

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: POVERTY-RATES.XLSX

*If an individual is a member of a census family that makes less than half of the median after-tax income in their region, that individual is included in the Census Family Low Income Measure After-Tax (CFLIM-AT).

Source: Statistics Canada, Annual Income Estimates for Census Families and Individuals, Table 11-10-0018-01

Share within Low-Income Families By Age

  • 2019 saw 20.8% of those ages 0 - 17 years living in low-income families. This share was down 0.1 percentage points from 2018 and down 3.9 percentage points from 2000. Halifax’s 2019 share, however, remained 3.1 percentage points higher than the national figure.
  • The share of those ages 18 - 64 years living in low-income families was the highest on record in 2019 at 17.4%, 0.8 percentage points higher than the national figure.
  • 12.0% of those 65 and older lived in low-income families; however, this is the only age group in Halifax with a figure that is lower than the national average (14.6%).

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: LOW-INCOME-BY AGE.XLSX

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Income Survey, Table 11-10-0066-01

MBM Thresholds by Component

  • The MBM threshold for Halifax has increased $2,750 since 2015, taking the 2020 total to $46,527, the highest threshold across benchmark cities.
  • Over the 5-year period, the only MBM component that saw a decline in its threshold was clothing, down by $24.
  • The MBM threshold for shelter saw the largest increase over the same period (+974), followed by other expenses (+$751), food (+$567), and transportation (+$482).

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: MBM-THRESHOLDS.XLSX

Source: Statistics Canada, Longitudinal Administrative Databank, Table 11-10-0055-01

Share and Average Income by Income Group

  • In 2019, 15.0% of total income across Halifax tax filers went to the top 5% of income earners, which is the lowest share attributed to this income group since recordkeeping began. This is a drop of 1.3 percentage points from 2018 and a decrease of 3.9 percentage points since the share peaked in 2000 at 18.9%.
  • On the other hand, 20.9% of income went to the bottom 50% of income earners in 2019, the highest share seen since the early 1990s.
  • Average income for the top 5% grew by $5,700 in 2019 to a total of $152,400. This is an annual average increase of 3.2% since 1991.
  • The bottom 50% had an average income of $17,200 in 2019, an increase of $400 over 2018 and an annual average growth of 2.6% since 1991.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: AVERAGE-SHARES.XLSX

Source: Statistics Canada, Income and Financial Data of Individuals, Table 11-10-0047-01

Distribution Of Tax Filers by Income

  • In 2020, 48% of Halifax’s tax filers were earning less than $40,000 per year, 4 percentage points lower than in 2019 and 8 points lower than 2016.
  • Since 2016, the share of people earning less than $20,000 per year has fallen 10 percentage points whereas the share of those earning $60,000 and more has increased 5 percentage points.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: INCOME-GROUPS.XLSX

Halifax Index 2022
Child Care

Child care is fundamental to a growing city. More affordable and accessible child care services make it easier for parents to work, and this boosts both the size of the labour force and household employment income. There is also a longer-term effect on the economy. High-quality child care builds a solid foundation for children as they pursue their education and eventually enter the workforce.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) assesses child care costs across 37 Canadian cities by three age groups: infants (<18 months), toddlers (18 months to 3 years), and preschoolers (> 3 years). According to the CCPA’s Game Changer report on child care in 2021, median monthly child care fees in Halifax are $996 for infants, $897 for toddlers, and $880 for preschoolers. These are the second-highest costs among benchmark cities for all age categories, behind only KCW. Costs in Halifax were up 4%, 5%, and 1% for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, respectively, in 2021.

In July 2021 the federal and Nova Scotia governments signed the Canada-Nova Scotia Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. This agreement calls for a 50% reduction in parent fees over 2019 levels by the end of 2022, with further declines to an average of $10 per day (or approximately $220 per month) by 2025-26.

The CCPA does project substantial reductions to median fees in Halifax in 2022 as a result of the new funding, but it estimates fees will be roughly 60% of 2019 levels rather than the targeted 50%. Halifax will remain the second-most expensive for all three child care categories across benchmark cities.

Data were unavailable for Victoria.

Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Game Changer: Will provinces and territories meet the new federal child care fee targets?

Median Child Care Fees for Infants

  • At $996 per month, Halifax had the second-highest child care fees for infants in 2021, behind KCW at $1,253.
  • The monthly cost for infant child care in Halifax is up 15% (+$129) since 2015 and up 4% (+$39) over 2020.
  • The lowest costs were seen in Quebec City followed by St. John’s, which had the largest 1-year and 7-year declines across benchmark cities. In both these cities, fees are set by the provincial government.
  • The CCPA projects that due to new funding the median child care cost for infants in Halifax will drop to $540 in 2022, although this projection is likely an underestimate as it includes no allowance for general inflation.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: INFANTS.XLSX

Data were unavailable for Victoria.

Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Game Changer: Will provinces and territories meet the new federal child care fee targets?

Median Child Care Fees for Toddlers

  • As with infant fees, Halifax had the second-highest monthly fees for toddlers across benchmark cities at $897 in 2021, an increase of $44 (+5%) over the previous year. Since 2015, the fees have increased 14% (+$113).
  • At $675 per month, Regina had the lowest cost outside cities with provincially set fees. Quebec City and St. John’s, where fees are provincially set, also had the lowest fees for this age category.
  • The CCPA projects that due to new funding the median child care cost for toddlers in Halifax will drop to $510 in 2022, although this projection is likely an underestimate as it includes no allowance for general inflation.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: TODDLERS.XLSX

Data were unavailable for Victoria.

Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Game Changer: Will provinces and territories meet the new federal child care fee targets?

Median Child Care Fees for Preschoolers

  • Halifax’s median preschool fee in 2021 was $880 per month. This is a 12% increase since 2015 and a 1% rise over 2020. Halifax had the second-highest fee across benchmark cities.
  • Among benchmark cities, the median monthly fee in Halifax was $192 below the highest (KCW) and $691 above the lowest (Quebec City).
  • The CCPA projects that due to new funding the median child care cost for preschoolers in Halifax will drop to $508 in 2022, although this projection is likely an underestimate as it includes no allowance for general inflation.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: PRESCHOOLERS.XLSX

Halifax Index 2022
Debt

Many people feared that as income-support programs and debt deferrals related to COVID-19 came to an end in 2021, debt levels and delinquency rates5might sharply increase. However, both measures dropped even further.

Average non-mortgage debt per Halifax consumer ended 2021 at $20,916, down 7.4% from the previous year. This is the lowest level seen since 2016, but it remains higher than the Canadian and Nova Scotia provincial averages of $20,686 and $20,704, respectively.

Halifax’s delinquency rate declined by one-fifth from a year ago, ending 2021 at 0.93% -- the third-lowest rate across 9 major cities included in an analysis from Equifax Canada. Although above the 0.86% national average, Halifax’s rate is below Nova Scotia’s 1.11% rate. In fact, in 2021, Halifax saw both the non-mortgage delinquency rate and the mortgage delinquency rate hit all-time lows.

Consumer insolvencies6continued their decline for the second straight year in 2021 after experiencing years of steady increase. Of the 1,126 insolvencies, the lowest recorded, 475 were bankruptcies7and 651 were proposals8These figures represent declines of 19.4% and 15.0%, respectively, over 2020.

Source: Equifax Canada, Canadian Consumer Credit (Various)

Non-Mortgage Debt per Consumer

  • Halifax’s average non-mortgage debt per consumer ended 2021 at $20,916. Although higher than average debt figures for Nova Scotia ($20,704) and Canada ($20,686), it was the lowest for Halifax on record (since Q1 2016).
  • Across the 9 major cities included in Equifax’s Major City Analysis, Halifax’s Q4 2021 figure was the fourth lowest in terms of average debt per consumer and represented the largest improvement (-7.4%) since Q4 2020 among all cities.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: DEBT-PER-CONSUMER.XLSX

Source: Equifax Canada, Canadian Consumer Credit (Various)

Non-Mortgage Delinquency Rate

  • The Q4 2021 consumer debt delinquency rate in Halifax was 0.93%, higher than the Canadian rate of 0.86% but below the Nova Scotia figure of 1.11%. All of these rates were the lowest since 2016 when recordkeeping began.
  • The delinquency rate in Halifax fell by one-fifth from Q4 2020, the second-largest drop across the cities included in the Equifax Canada analysis. Halifax had the third-lowest rate across all cities.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: DELINQUENCY-RATE.XLSX

Source: Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, Insolvency Statistics in Canada (Various)

Consumer Insolvencies by Type

  • Consumer bankruptcies in Canada in 2021 totalled 475, a 19.4% decline since 2020 and down 56.2% since 2019. Consumer proposals declined 34.7% from 2019 for a total of 651 in 2021.
  • Total consumer insolvencies at 1,126 were the lowest seen over the past decade, 45.9% lower than the high recorded in 2019 of 2,081.

DOWNLOAD THE DATA: INSOLVENCIES.XLSX

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