04/22/2014 10:06 EDT | Updated 06/22/2014 05:59 EDT

New York Times says Canada's middle class richer than U.S.

The New York Times made headlines across Canada, as well as the U.S., when it produced a study Tuesday showing the Canadian middle class had surpassed America’s.

The newspaper's economic analysis was based on data compiled by LIS, which maintains the Luxembourg Income Study Database, and studies the growth of median per capita income after taxes are accounted for.

The Times found Canada, which lagged behind the U.S. in 2000, now has a narrow lead.


“They went through the mother of all recessions,” CIBC economist Benjamin Tal told As It Happens, referring to the devastating 2010 economic collapse.

“We’re doing OK, but we should not relax about it,” he said, adding Canada still struggles to consistently produce high-quality jobs.  

On CBC News Network's Power & Politics, the story started a fiery debate.

Ian Lee, assistant professor at Carleton's Sprott School of Business, argued the new study “completely deconstructs the narrative” of Canada’s middle-class demise — something Opposition Leaders Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau have frequently spoken about.

But Trish Hennessey, director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, argued Canada measuring its success against the U.S. is “like comparing ourselves to a sinking stone.”

You can catch more of the debate between Lee and Hennessey in the video above, and hear more of Tal’s economic analysis in the audio clip attached to this story.