Newcomers who came to Canada in second year of COVID-19 pandemic had better median entry wages than pre-pandemic: Statistics Canada

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: January 25, 2024

In a new report updating findings from 2022, a Statistics Canada (StatsCan) report released on January 22 reveals that there are many ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect how new immigrants are integrating when they arrive in Canada.

From the number of new immigrants* who filed taxes in 2021 to the median entry wages of newcomers who arrived in 2020, the recent StatsCan report outlines several key findings related to the economic outcomes of recent immigrants to Canada in 2021 – the second year of the pandemic.

*StatsCan does not seem to distinguish between the word “immigrant” (technically referring to Canadian newcomers who have obtained permanent residence) and the word “newcomer” (also including temporary residents) in its reporting

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More: Click here for StatsCan’s 2022 report on the economic integration of new immigrants through COVID-19

Record low number of new immigrant tax filers in 2021

According to the 2021 tax filing records of immigrants who came to Canada in 2020, 2021 had the lowest number of new immigrants who filed taxes in Canada among any admission cohort spanning the previous 10 years.

StatsCan reasons that this outcome was “in response to the pandemic’s border restrictions.”

Therefore, for the first time in Canadian history, the majority of tax-filing immigrants among the 2020 admission cohort were individuals who had already lived in Canada (55.5%)*. The remaining 44.5% of tax-filing new immigrants did not have pre-admission experience.

*Among Canada’s 2020 immigrant cohort, the 55.5% of immigrants with pre-admission experience broke down as follows:

  • 22.5% of immigrant tax filers had work and study permits
  • 22.3% had a work permit only
  • 1.9% had a study permit only
  • 8.5% had asylum claims

Rebound and improvement in median entry wages for new immigrants

Analyzing the median entry wages (earned one year after admission) of Canadian immigrants who arrived in 2020, StatsCan uncovered that this cohort had the highest median entry wages of any admission cohort spanning the previous 10 years.

Specifically, StatsCan found that “in [the 2021] tax year, the median entry wage of … 2020 newcomers was $37,700.”

This figure represents a 21.6% increase from the median entry wages of Canadian immigrants who arrived in 2019 ($31,000) and a 13.6% jump compared to the 2018 admission cohort ($33,200).

Further broken down by gender, StatsCan data found that, in 2021, the median entry wage of women newcomers “remained lower than that of their [male] counterparts by a large margin.” This is even though, compared to the 2019 admission cohort, “the median entry wage for women admitted in 2020 had a larger increase than” male newcomers to Canada from the same years.

More: For more information on the differing economic outcomes between men and women who immigrated to Canada in 2020, click here.

10-year record high median entry wages for newcomers with pre-admission work experience

Returning to the concept of pre-admission experience, StatsCan found that “gaining pre-admission experience in Canada, including work and/or study experience before admission, can help ease the integration of immigrants into Canadian society.”

According to StatsCan “comparisons of median entry wages among three admission cohorts from 2018 through 2020 … show that pre-admission experience plays an essential role in immigrants' economic integration in the Canadian labour market.”

In fact, StatsCan data shows that “during the pandemic, immigrants with work experience prior to admission were the least impacted by the adverse economic climate, which can be observed from the overtime wage trend of the 2011 admission cohort.”

This is further evidenced by the economic outcomes of immigrants in 2020 who had pre-admission experience before immigrating to Canada.

  • Immigrants who had only a study permit had a median entry wage of $16,100. Study permit holders admitted in 2018 had a median entry wage of $15,900.
  • Asylum claimants had an equal median entry wage to their 2018 counterparts ($24,300 in both years)
  • Immigrants with both work and study permits had a median entry wage ($48,600 in 2021) that was 4.5% higher than their 2018 counterparts ($46,500)
  • Immigrants who landed in 2020 and held only work permits earned a median entry wage of $47,900 in 2021 (17.1% higher than in 2018)

Positive outcomes across the board for 2021 median entry wages

Regardless of whether they held pre-admission experience, the cohort of immigrants that came to Canada in 2020 earned median entry wages in 2021 that were higher than pre-pandemic levels.

In other words, according to StatsCan, “following the difficulties the previous cohort encountered in [the 2020 tax year], immigrants admitted in 2020 experienced wage increases in 2021 regardless of immigration admission category, pre-admission experience and sex.”

In fact, data reveals that immigrants who came to Canada in 2020 without pre-admission experience had a median entry wage of $28,900 in 2021. This figure represents an 8.2% jump compared to immigrants admitted without pre-admission experience in 2018.

When broken down by immigration class, StatsCan data also reveals that “median entry wages of all admission categories [in 2021] returned to or even surpassed the pre-pandemic levels.”

These numbers are broken down as follows when comparing the median entry wages of each immigration class “among the three most recent admission cohorts from 2018 through 2020.”

Economic Principal Applicants

  • 2020 admission cohort: $51,200 in 2021 (up 16.6% from 2020, 12.8% from 2019)
  • 2019 admission cohort: $43,900 in 2020
  • 2018 admission cohort: $45,400 in 2019

Spouses/Dependents of Economic Immigrants

  • 2020 admission cohort: $32,400 in 2021 (up 12.9% from 2019)
  • 2019 admission cohort: $26,100 in 2020
  • 2018 admission cohort: $28,700 in 2019

Family-Sponsored Immigrants

  • 2020 admission cohort: $25,800 in 2021
  • 2019 admission cohort: $22,000 in 2020
  • 2018 admission cohort: $25,600 in 2019

Refugees

  • 2020 admission cohort: $20,800 in 2021 (up 17.5% from 2020, 4.0% from 2019)
  • 2019 admission cohort: $17,700 in 2020
  • 2018 admission cohort: $20,000 in 2019

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