Canadians were more confident this month about their finances and the prospect of an improving job market in the future, the Conference Board of Canada said Monday.
The consumer confidence index is still "well below" a level that would indicate Canadians are optimistic about their financial situation and job prospects, but it did increase 6.2 points to 91.0, the highest level since 2010.
The index measures confidence relative to 2002, which is assigned an index value of 100.
People who answered the telephone survey on which the index is based felt better about their finances in September than in August. Just over 20 per cent said they were better off financially than they were six months ago, compared to 19 per cent last month. About 29 per cent said they expected their situation to improve in the next six months, compared to 25 per cent in the August survey.
The number of people who were positive about future job prospects rose 1.8 percentage points over August, when only 14.1 per cent of respondents said they expect to see more jobs in their communities within six months.
Volatile index in B.C. pushed up overall confidence
The Conference Board attributed much of the September rise in confidence to the large increase in optimism in B.C., where the index went up 25.5 points. after declining 14 points the previous month.
"The volatility suggests that the B.C. index might not be giving any clear sign of where confidence is headed," the board warned.
Confidence was also up in Atlantic Canada, where the index rose 11 points to 76.5, but the region continued to have the country's most dour outlook when it came to jobs.
"Unfortunately, even allowing for this month's improvement, residents in Canada’s easternmost provinces are easily the most pessimistic when it comes to future job creation — one in four residents there expects fewer jobs in their community going forward," the board said.
Western Canada has faith in resource boom
Resource-rich provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan helped drive the consumer confidence index up in the Prairie region, where it rose 7.5 points to 113 on the strength of people's confidence in the ongoing positive impact of the resources boom on their finances and the job market.
Quebec and Ontario saw smaller gains, with the index rising one point in Quebec to 78.3 and 3.2 points in Ontario to 82.8. It was the third consecutive month of increases for both provinces. Quebecers felt better about their finances, while residents of Ontario showed increasing confidence in the job market.
"Significantly, residents of Canada’s most-populous province (Ontario) now view the labour market with less pessimism than they did six months ago," the board said.
The survey was conducted between Sept.5 and Sept. 17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 per cent.