Worries about the job market weighed heavily on Canadians in February, bringing the Conference Board of Canada’s consumer confidence index down by 2.2 points to 80.8 (in 2002 it sat at 100).
On the heels of a recent employment report showing Canada shed 22,000 jobs in January, Canadians expressed concerns about the future of the job market last month. When asked about the anticipated job situation in their community in six months’ time, there was a 3.1-point drop nationally—to 17.3%—in the number who expected more jobs. There was also a corresponding 4.2-point increase—to 23%—in the number of respondents who expected fewer jobs in their community. Every region except the Atlantic provinces experienced a dip in confidence when it came to the future job market in their community.
Despite this, Canadians were notably more optimistic about making major purchases last month. When asked if they felt now was a good time to make a major purchase, 42% indicated it was, up 3 points from last month. There was also a 3.1-point decline—to 46%—in the share of respondents who felt now was a bad time to make a major purchase.
There was no change this month in Canadians’ opinions about their current levels of income. When asked about their family’s financial situation relative to six months ago, 17.2% of respondents said they were better off, up 1.6 points from last month. This, however, was offset by a 1.6-point increase—to 19%—in the number of respondents who said they were worse off.
There was also little change this month in consumers’ expectations about future income prospects. When asked about their family’s financial situation in six months’ time, 24.8% of respondents said they expected their family to be better off, up 0.4 points from January. This small increase was partially offset by a 0.2-point increase—to 15%—in those surveyed who said they expected their family to be worse off.
The national results showed little change from last month but there were significant variations within regions. Optimism about future income dropped significantly in the Atlantic region and in Quebec, but posted a large gain in the Prairie provinces.