If you’re wealthy in Canada, things have been good for you in recent decades. And if you’re poor, you’ve likely seen some wage gains and increased support from the government in the form of tax decreases.

But if you’re in the middle, you’ve likely been getting nowhere — or, at best, getting somewhere thanks to ever-larger debt loads.

A presentation made to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty last October, and obtained by Postmedia this week through access to information laws, shows the extent of the problem.

According to the Finance Ministry report, Canada’s middle earners saw income grow a measly seven per cent between 1976 and 2010, when adjusted for inflation. That’s just 0.2 per cent per year.

Meanwhile, the top one-fifth of earners saw their incomes grow 38 per cent during that period, adjusted for inflation. For the country as a whole, the overall rate was 18 per cent.

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  • 10. Plastics Processing Machine Operator

    These are the 10 worst jobs according to <a href="http://www.canadianbusiness.com/companies-and-industries/top-10-worst-jobs-in-canada/" target="_blank">Canadian Business</a>. Read <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/17/worst-jobs-in-canada-_n_3095100.html" target="_blank">more here</a>. 10. Plastics processing machine operator Median salary: $33,072 5-yr. salary growth: +9% 5-yr. growth in employees (2006-2012): -42.41% Source: Canadian Business

  • 9. Printing Machine Operator

    Median salary: $37,440 5-yr. salary growth: 0% 5-yr. growth in employees (2006-2012): -42.86% Source: Canadian Business

  • 8. Foundry Worker

    Median salary: $43,680 5-yr. salary growth: +5% 5-yr growth in employees (2006-2012): -43.14%

  • 7. Labourer, Wood, Pulp And Paper Processing

    Median salary: $39,520 5-yr. salary growth: +23% 5-yr growth in employees (2006-2012): -43.39% Source: Canadian Business

  • 6. Rubber Processing Machine Operator

    Median salary: $38,500.80 5-yr. salary growth: -3% 5-yr growth in employees (2006-2012):-45.39% Source: Canadian Business

  • 5. General Office Clerk

    Median salary: $35,360 5-yr. salary growth: +3% 5-yr growth in employees (2006-2012): -46.22% Source: Canadian Business

  • 4. Harvesting Labourer

    Median salary: $22,360 5-yr. salary growth: +12% 5-yr growth in employees (2006-2012): -57.24% Source: Canadian Business

  • 3. Weaver Or Knitter

    Median salary: $29,120 5-yr. salary growth: 0% 5-yr growth in employees (2006-2012): -57.97% Source: Canadian Business

  • 2. Photographic And Film Processor

    Median salary: $23,212.80 5-yr. salary growth: +8% 5-yr growth in employees (2006-2012): -58.54% Source: Canadian Business

  • 1. Pulp Mill Operator

    Median salary: $56,160 5-yr. salary growth: +8% 5-yr growth in employees (2006-2012): -66.67% Source: Canadian Business

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  • 12: Natural & applied science researcher

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 73% Change in salary (2006-2012): 25% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 0.8 Median annual salary (2012): $73,590

  • 11: Audiologist & speech language pathologist

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 29% Change in salary (2006-2012): 21% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 0.93 Median annual salary (2012): $77,813

  • 10: Aerospace engineer

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 49% Change in salary (2006-2012): 11% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 1.02 Median annual salary (2012): $75,005

  • 9: Chemical engineer

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 46% Change in salary (2006-2012): 49% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 0.82 Median annual salary (2012): $78,000

  • 8: Senior government manager

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 4% Change in salary (2006-2012): 23% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 1.15 Median annual salary (2012): $95,992

  • 7: Real estate and financial manager

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 47% Change in salary (2006-2012): 15% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 1.07 Median annual salary (2012): $79,872

  • 6: Lawyer

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 33% Change in salary (2006-2012): 14% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 1.19 Median annual salary (2012): $79,997

  • 5: School principal & administrator

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 9% Change in salary (2006-2012): 25% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 1.23 Median annual salary (2012): $90,002

  • 4: Electrical & telecommunications contractor

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 87% Change in salary (2006-2012): 28% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 1.09 Median annual salary (2012): $72,800

  • 3: Petroleum engineer

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 75% Change in salary (2006-2012): 17% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 1.02 Median annual salary (2012): $93,517

  • 2: Head nurse and health care manager

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 58% Change in salary (2006-2012): 24% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 1.23 Median annual salary (2012): $74,880

  • 1: Oil & gas drilling supervisor

    Growth in # of employees (2006-2012): 44% Change in salary (2006-2012): 39% Projected job openings for every person looking in 2020: 2.3 Median annual salary (2012): $74,880

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  • WORST: Administrative & support - 6

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Manufacturing - 4.3

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Education - 4.3

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Construction - 3.9

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Retail trade - 3.4

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Professional, scientific & technical - 3.2

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Accommodation and food services - 3

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Wholesale trade - 2

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • BEST: Health care, social assistance - 1.4

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

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  • WORST: Newfoundland & Labrador - 12.4

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

  • 12: Nova Scotia - 10.8

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

  • 11: Nunvaut - 9.7

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

  • 10: New Brunswick - 8.3

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

  • 9: Prince Edward Island - 7.4

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

  • 8: Quebec - 6.9

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

  • 7: Ontario - 6.8

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a> Pictured: The Ottawa Congress Centre.

  • 6: British Columbia - 5.3

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

  • 5: Manitoba - 3.5

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a> Pictured: The Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg.

  • 4: Yukon - 3.3

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

  • 3: Northwest Territories - 2.9

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a> Pictured: Yellowknife

  • 2: Saskatchewan - 2.1

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

  • 1: Alberta - 1.7

    Number of job-seekers for every job available, in the three months ending in August, 2012. Source: <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/121120/dq121120c-eng.htm">StatsCan</a>

The numbers look better when adjusted for shrinking family size. Middle class households today have fewer working adults than they did in 1976; when the numbers are adjusted for this, income growth jumps to 30 per cent for the period — still below the top fifth of earners.

But the report also found that the median wage in Canada (the wage right in the middle of all wages) fell six per cent during the same period, suggesting a larger proportion of Canada’s workers are in low-wage jobs.

“Middle-class families have not received significant hourly wage increases. This is true in absolute [terms] and relative to other income groups,” the Post quoted the presentation as saying.

The numbers more or less square up with other research. In a report released earlier this year, TD Bank found that low- and middle-wage jobs are shrinking as a portion of the economy, as job growth concentrates more and more in the high-wage category.

This “hollowing out” of middle class jobs is different from the phenomenon seen in the U.S., where job growth has been stronger at both the top end of the labour market and at the bottom end, while middle-wage jobs suffer. But in Canada, both middle- and low-wage jobs are shrinking (relatively), while only high-end jobs are growing as a share of the economy.

“North of the border, the winners win more, and the losers lose more,” TD Bank declared.

A Statistics Canada analysis of income trends among Canadian families, released last month, found that 2011 was the fourth consecutive year that family household income saw no growth.

Over the four years from 2007 to 2011, median income for families grew a tepid 1.9 per cent, to $68,000 from $66,700, StatsCan reported. That’s a growth rate of less than 0.5 per cent per year.

However, what hasn’t shrunk in recent years is middle-class spending. Retail sales growth, though weaker in recent years than it has been historically, still outstrips earnings growth. House prices have also been increasing above wage growth.

All of this has translated into record-high debt levels among Canadians, with household debt jumping from around 70 or 80 per cent of household income in the mid-1970s to more than 160 per cent in the past few years.

Many economists say Canada’s over-indebted consumers are now going to become a drag on the economy, as taking on more debt becomes unfeasible for a growing number of households.

Canadian consumers were the lynchpin of the economic recovery, contributing more than half of total GDP growth in 2010 and 2011,” a Bank of Montreal report said earlier this year. “Unfortunately, a good chunk of that consumption was fuelled by debt, making it unsustainable.”