Saskatchewan second in net household worth

By Will Chabun, Leader-Post, February 26, 2014 - A new Statistics Canada study says Saskatchewan households have the second-highest net worth in the country, surpassing Alberta and Ontario.

But there's a hitch.

Despite the run-up in home and farmland values since 2005, our net worth - what families would have if they sold all their assets and paid off their debts - grew slower than the national average between 1999 and 2012, the study says.

Saskatchewan family units - defined as families of two or more people living in the same dwelling, related by blood, marriage, common law or adoption - had a median net worth of $271,400, followed closely by Alberta ($267,500) and Ontario ($265,700).

Highest was B.C. at $344,000, reflecting the rising value of real estate there. That's more than double the median worth of those in Newfoundland and Labrador ($167,900) and Prince Edward Island ($150,300).

But Newfies have something to smile about.

Between 1999 and 2012, median net worth in their oil-fuelled province rose the fastest in the country - by 98.7 per cent, compared with only 61.3 per cent here and 71.5 per cent in Alberta.

Nationally, the median net worth of Canadian family units was $243,800 in 2012, up 44.5 per cent from 2005 and almost 80 per cent more than the 1999 median of $137,000, adjusted for inflation.

There's something else worrisome for Saskatchewan. Our total debt rose from $11.3 billion in 1999 to $34.7 billion - a 207 per cent rise. What we owe on mortgages increased at an even higher rate: 230 per cent, to $24.7 billion.

The study also showed: Median net worth was highest for families where the person with the highest income was 55 to 64 years old ($533,600) in 2012. This was almost three times higher than for family units where the highest income recipient was 35 to 44 ($182,500), largely reflecting the rise in the value of homes and investments and the way investments and property grow in value.

For senior family units, for those where the highest income recipient was 65 or older, median net worth was lower as they draw on their assets as they begin to leave the workforce ($460,700).

Families' biggest assets, ranked by value, were their principal residences, followed by private pension assets, then other real estate (such as cottages, time shares, rental properties and other commercial properties).

Finally, assets are not distributed evenly.

If Canadian families were sliced in five groups, or quintiles each representing 20 per cent of all family units, those in the lowest quintile had a median net worth of only $1,100 in 2012 - while those in the highest quintile had a median net worth of almost $1.4 million.

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