Canadians are feeling less optimistic about the economy, as consumer confidence declined in May, according to the Conference Board of Canada. 

The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence declined 2.6 points to 87.3, the first decline in the index since December. Worries about job prospects and a more pessimistic view of personal finances drove the decline.

The index is used as a way to track how Canadians are feeling about the economy by asking them about four things:

  • Their current finances.
  • Where they believe their finances are headed.
  • Their feelings about job prospects and job creation.
  • Whether they think making a big purchase is a good idea.

The Conference Board's data shows a stark divide between West and East. Canadians in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada are feeling less confident. In British Columbia and the Prairie region, confidence is up.

Ontarians are the least confident, scoring 75.4 points on the index, a drop of 8.3 points from April.

"In Ontario, consumers were increasingly pessimistic about all four indicators," Alicia MacDonald, senior economist at the Conference Board, writes in the report.

The Prairies are the most confident region, and the only area in the country where the balance of opinion on all four questions is positive.

Despite the drop in May, the overall trend is up, as the conference board's index has risen by 6.6 points compared to May of 2013.