Photo from Statistics Canada

Census Data Shows London Is Struggling

New figures released by Statistics Canada are painting a portrait of London that, when it comes to income, shows a city that is not shining on an economic hill.

The federal numbers agency released 2016 census data on income on Wednesday. Perhaps most strikingly, the data shows the London census metropolitan area (which includes St. Thomas and Strathroy) had the third highest rate of children living in low-income homes among Canada’s cities. With 22.2% of its children living in low-income homes, the London CMA trails only Saint John, New Brunswick (23.1%) and Windsor (24%).

London’s overall low-income rate saw the highest growth among Canadian cities over a ten-year span. In 2005, the low-income rate in the London CMA was 13.3%. In 2015, it was 17%.

Demographer and Professor Don Kerr of King’s University College at Western University says the data should sound alarm bells.

“Our situation has slipped to quite an extent,” he says. “London was, at one time, considered to be a relatively prosperous city and this data is consistent with the idea that our economy has been hit pretty hard.”

The London CMA also had the second lowest median household income among cities in Ontario. The median income of $64,743 was considerably lower than the provincial figure of $74,287 and the national figure of $70,336.

Kerr says the London area is struggling to create jobs and that’s having a direct impact on people’s wallets.

“It relates to jobs and employment, pure and simple. This region has to somehow do a better job of job creation. That should be priority for both the municipal and provincial governments,” he says. “I looked at the employment rates for persons aged 25-54. These are people you’d expect to be working. We’re actually dead last among CMAs in the country in terms of the employment rate for ages 25-54. There are fewer people working today in London than prior to the last recession.”

The news isn’t all bad. The figures released by Statistics Canada also show that 28.4% of households in London have a total income greater that $100,000/year. That is, however, lower than the provincial average.