The NWT still has Canada’s highest median wage. Here’s the data.

New data from Statistics Canada suggests the median annual wage in the Northwest Territories increased by 11.7 percent from 2019 to 2021, the second-largest increase in Canada.

Only British Columbia posted a larger increase in the same period – 14.5 percent – but BC’s median wage of $44,820 remains eclipsed by the NWT’s 2021 figure of $62,320.

The NWT’s median wage remains the highest in Canada. Yukon is second, on $57,150, followed by Alberta’s $48,040. The Canadian median wage is $43,190.


The median is the value right in the middle of a sample of people. If you lined up everyone in the NWT according to the amount they earn, then drew a dot in the middle, the dot would represent the median wage-earner in the territory. (It’s not quite the same as the average, where you add up all the wages and divide by the number of people earning salaries. The median is less affected by extreme outliers, like people earning very low or very high sums of money.)

The NWT has long held Canada’s highest median wage, partly as a function of having an economy driven by the diamond mining sector and the public service. Residents also have to put up with some of North America’s highest costs of living.

While the territory’s median wage increased by 11.7 percent from 2019 to 2021, most of that increase took place in 2019-20. The median wage increased by only 2.4 percent in 2020-21.

Nunavut was the only Canadian jurisdiction in which the median wage dropped between 2020 and 2021. The median wage in Nunavut was $36,950 in 2021, down from $38,140.

Statistics Canada’s data comes from all T1 tax filings across Canada. Figures for years before 2021 are given in 2021 dollars, adjusted for inflation.


In the NWT, the median wage for tax-filers identifying as male was $65,300 in 2021. The median wage for tax-filers in the territory identifying as female was $59,610. (These figures were reported by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics.)

While that discrepancy is significant, it’s one of the smallest gender pay gaps in Canada. The female median wage represents 91.3 percent of the male median wage in the NWT, behind only Nunavut (93.5 percent) and well above the Canada-wide figure, where women only report earnings worth 74 percent of those reported by men.