More than one-third (37%) of Canadians view themselves as working class, while 43% say they’re middle class, finds an Ekos-Canadian Press survey.
It’s the lowest sentiment recorded since 2002, Ekos says, when 70% of Canadians defined themselves as middle class.
At the same time, the incidence of those in the working class has nearly doubled.
Those self-identifications aren’t just about people’s bank balances, says Frank Graves, president of Ekos. It’s about how they see their physical well-being, their emotional connections and general sense of their quality of lives.
“It’s not just an economic debate,” Graves says. “If we really see people falling out of the middle class, then we’re going to have a less happy, less healthy society at some point in the future.”
Ekos asked Canadians about their own short-term and medium-term financial outlooks, and only a minority of Canadians see things as getting better.
When asked about the quality of their own lives compared to those 25 years ago, 33% felt they were better off and 34% felt they were doing worse.
When asked how they think the next generation will do, 13% felt they’d be better, and 56% felt things would be worse.
But, perceptions of the economy do generally lag behind reality, Graves notes.
The latest Statistics Canada numbers on job growth show there’s been 10 months in a row of gains, the longest growth streak since 2008. Meanwhile, average hourly wages grew at the above-inflation pace of 2.2%, for the biggest increase since April 2016.
Canadians compared to Americans
The questions were asked as part of an ongoing effort to suss out whether the factors that have led to the overhaul of the political status quo in the U.S. and elsewhere in recent years exist in Canada.
The poll suggests they do. “It’s not like people are moving out of the middle class and becoming upper class,” Graves says. “They are falling backward, and I think the evidence is really quite clear is that that is probably the greatest source of the rise of populism and all of the unpleasant things that go along with that.”
Anger from the working class in the U.S. was seen as a critical force behind U.S. President Donald Trump’s march to victory. His promise to restore America’s economy was embraced by people rallying around his slogan of making American great again.
Americans’ outlook in turn shot up in the week after Trump was elected. A regular tracking survey done by the firm Gallup saw a 13 point jump in their confidence index, which looks at how Americans view current economic conditions and whether they think things are getting better or worse.
The jump came from a partisan shift — Republicans suddenly felt more optimistic about things than they had for a very long time, Gallup concludes.
About the survey: The telephone survey of 4,839 Canadians was conducted between September 15 and October 1. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4%, 19 times out of 20.
Published at Tue, 10 Oct 2017 10:28:09 -0400