As Fall Begins, Confidence in the Economy Declines in Canada

Compared to last month, more respondents are describing their personal financial situation as poor or very poor.

The proportion of Canadians who think that the national economy is in good shape has decreased for the second consecutive month, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,005 Canadian adults, half of respondents (50%) describe the national economy as in good or very good shape. This is a three-point decrease from the August Economic Panorama. More people across the country are also reporting that their personal finances are in poor shape (43%, +6 since last month).

Only 12 per cent of Canadians think the national economy will decline in the next few months. Most people continue to believe it will either remain stable (57%) or improve (23%).

A majority of the population (51%) thinks the recession will not be over until 2011 or after.

Current Concerns

Over the past three months, many Canadians have been concerned about the safety of their investments (40%), and the safety of their savings (35%). The threat of unemployment also ranks high at 37 per cent. Fewer, yet still many Canadians have also worried about being able to pay mortgage or rent (28%) and the chance that their employer would run out of money (26%). All of these indicators are slightly up since August.

Inflation and Debt

Though summer is officially over, a large majority of Canadians (72%) continue to think gasoline prices will go up. Three-in-four respondents (75%) also believe groceries will become more expensive. Two-in-five expect to see real estate prices increase (40%), 36 per cent say new cars will also be more expensive, and 24 per cent think inflation will affect new televisions.

Most people remain committed to paying down debt and saving if extra money came their way. An extra $1,000 would be allocated, on average, to paying debt ($390); covering daily expenses ($187); savings ($179); buying personal gifts or treats ($93); buying big items like a car or a home renovation ($85); investing in individual stocks ($36), and investing in mutual funds ($30).

Political Leadership

More Canadians are expressing confidence in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ability to handle the economy, but the public remains divided on this matter. Two-in-five (42%, +5 since August) trust Harper to do the right thing, while 46 per cent do not.

Trust in Liberal and Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff remains low at 26 per cent. Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney is still the most trusted leader with 50 per cent expressing confidence in his leadership.

The Conservative Party is preferred over the Liberals to rein in national debt (38% to 24%), end the recession (36% to 22%), and control inflation (38% to 23%). The two parties are virtually tied in the category of job creation (Con. 33%, Lib. 32%). Around four-in-ten Canadians consistently say that neither of these parties is a better option to handle these economic files.

Canada vs. Other Countries

Overall, Canadians think their national economy is in better shape than many other industrialized economies. Many respondents say the situation in Canada is better than in the United States (71%), the United Kingdom (44%), France (42%), Japan (33%), Germany (29%), and Australia (24%). The only exception is still China, with 30 per cent of respondents saying Canada’s situation is worse than theirs.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From September 21 to September 22, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,008 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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