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Canada's top 1 per cent of earners has seen its share of total income fall to a six-year low, while the number of women in the top-earners group has hit a record high, new data show.

The country's richest 1 per cent held 10.3 per cent of total income in 2012, down from 10.6 per cent a year earlier, Statistics Canada said Tuesday in a first glimpse of how top earners fared in 2012. Their share peaked in 2006 at 12.1 per cent, though it remains higher than three decades ago, when it was 7.1 per cent.

The recent drop stands in stark contrast to the United States, where the share held by top earners has been climbing. In the U.S., the income share of the top 1 per cent grew to 19.3 per cent in 2012 from 18 per cent in 2006.

Since hitting a low of 16.7 per cent in 2009, "the total income share for the top 1 per cent in the United States had grown by 2.6 percentage points by 2012, while, in Canada, it had declined by 0.4 percentage points during the same period," the government agency said.

The six years between 2006 and 2012 also marked, for the first time since 1982, "a prolonged period in which the total income shares of the bottom 90 per cent, 95 per cent and 99 per cent of Canadian taxfilers rose or stabilized," Statscan noted.

Canada's 1-per-centers

The bar to qualify as a top 1-per-center is rising. The threshold rose to $215,700 in 2012 from $212,700 in a year earlier, expressed in constant dollars. That compares with a threshold of $154,100 in 1982.

The release is based on administrative tax data, while the analysis is based on total, or before-tax income.

Men are still the majority in the top-earner group. But that's shifting, with the number and share of women in the top 1 per cent hitting a 31-year high in 2012.

More than one in five, or 21.3 per cent, of top 1-per-cent earners in 2012 were women, "almost twice their proportion in 1982," the agency said. There are a total of 261,365 top 1-per-cent taxfilers.

There was considerable variation among provinces. Ontario still has the largest portion of Canada's top 1 per cent of taxfilers, but that share ebbed to 41.5 per cent in 2012 from 51.7 per cent in 2000.

In 2005, "Alberta surpassed Quebec as the province with the second-largest proportion of Canadians in the top 1 per cent, and has remained there since," the agency said, noting that Alberta's share rose to 22.8 per cent of Canadian taxfilers in 2012 from 12.7 per cent in 2000.

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