Median entry wage for immigrants reached record level in 2018

A new Statistics Canada report reveals immigrant wages were on the rise before the pandemic, some groups surpassed Canadian-born workers.

The median entry wage for new immigrants admitted to Canada was the highest it had ever been in 2018, according to a Statistics Canada report released Feb. 1.

Immigrants were seeing a steady rise in median entry wages, after the 2018 record smashed the previous top entry wages of 2017. Immigrants reported a median entry wage of $30,100 in 2018 after coming to Canada just one year before. The previous record was $26,500 in 2017 for immigrants who landed in 2016.

Although the gap between immigrant and Canadian median wages declined, the median entry wage for Canadians was still higher at $37,400 in 2018. Median entry wages were highest for those with both a study and work permit ($44,000) and those with a work permit only ($39,100). Both of these groups surpassed Canadians in median entry wages.

Certain socioeconomic characteristics determined higher wages for immigrants such as high language proficiency in English or French, professional experience prior to immigration, and category of admission among other factors.

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The higher entry wages for immigrants could be a result of more immigrants having pre-admission experience in Canada. Compared to previous years, more immigrants who came to Canada in 2017 had work or study experience, or they had claimed refugee status prior to admission.

“Pre-admission experience, which can provide immigrants with language skills and knowledge of the job market, can help immigrants settle more quickly than those with no pre-admission experience,” the report read.

Immigrant outcomes also differed depending on what country they were from. Economic immigrants born in the U.S., the U.K., and Brazil had the highest median wages 10 years after admission, but those from Iran, Egypt, and Algeria saw the highest increases in median wage over the same period.

Immigrants who had worked in Canada before applying for permanent residence more often stayed in their province of admission. About 87 per cent of immigrants were still in their initial province five years after landing. Ontario had the highest provincial retention rate, followed by Alberta, and B.C.

Similar retention rates were seen 10 years after admission, for those who came to Canada in 2008. Ontario still had the highest rates, but B.C. slipped in front of Alberta by 0.1 per cent. Asylum claimants and work permits were most likely to remain in their province of admission. The overall retention rate after 10 years in Canada was 85.4 per cent.

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