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Many Canadians struggle to get a steady paycheque, study finds

‘Pervasive and profound ‘: Canadians struggling with income volatility: study
(AndreyPopov / Getty Images)

A steady paycheque can be hard to come by for many millennials and older men from Generation X, according to a new study by the TD Bank Group.

The paper, released on Wednesday, found that 37 per cent of Canadians reported experiencing moderate to high levels of income volatility over the past year, or an estimated 10 million Canadians.

The survey, which was conducted by market research firm Ipsos, indicated that 47 per cent of millennials (and women in particular) did not have a steady paycheque, while men between the ages of 45 and 54 also struggled with an unpredictable income at the same rate.


Self-employed Canadians appear to have the most difficult time finding consistent pay (75 per cent), followed by seasonal workers (68 per cent), those who can’t work (63 per cent), part-time workers (57 per cent) students (57 per cent), and lower-income Canadians (45 per cent).

“Our findings suggest the impact is both pervasive and profound – making it hard for many people to live the life they want today, let alone plan for and feel confident about their future. It’s a subject worthy of closer examination,” Bharat Masrani, CEO of TD Bank Group, said in a press release.

“Income volatility can erode people’s confidence in creating a future they want for themselves and their families.”

The top reasons for fluctuation in monthly pay were: irregular hourly pay (28 per cent), multiple sources of variable income (19 per cent) and self-employment (18 per cent).

The survey also asked respondents about the state of their finances.

Unsurprisingly, participants who experienced income volatility reported feeling stressed about the subject and had lower “financial health,” which accounted for various activities tied to saving, spending borrowing and planning.

Those who struggled with income volatility were also more likely to put off buying groceries, clearing minimum amounts on credit cards and paying off monthly bills.

“This confirms what many community organizations have suspected for some time: that there has been a sea change in the financial lives of Canadian households. Rising income volatility appears to be making it far more challenging for households at all income levels to manage financially, but Canadians with lower incomes are really feeling this most sharply,” said Elizabeth Mulholland, CEO of charity Prosper Canada.

“We need to broaden our focus to address, not just income poverty and inequality, but income volatility as well, if Canadians are to truly prosper.”

TD told The Globe and Mail it is planning to fund further research on the issue.

Ipsos surveyed 3,000 Canadians over the age of 18 between April 13 and April 23.