Canadians offer ho-hum economic outlook

January 2011 and nearly half the number who said so in January 2010 (56 per cent). Only 36 per cent say they believe their own personal financial situation will improve, compared to 38 per cent in 2011 and 45 per cent in 2010.

The survey also reports that, while Canadians, on average, have reduced their personal (non-mortgage) debt, more than half (57 per cent) don’t have any savings set aside for an emergency/rainy day, unchanged since the last quarter. Personal debt is now down to $11,729 compared to $13,020 last quarter. In addition, when it comes to their personal finances, 46 per cent feel they are "standing still" rather than getting ahead, compared to last year.

Consumers are taking action about the state of their personal finances. Over the next year, almost one-third (31 per cent) intend to focus on reducing debt and spending less, 22 per cent plan to save or invest more, and 23 per cent intend to take all of these actions.

Job concerns have risen slightly across the country since last year (21 per cent compared to 20 per cent) and almost one-third of Canadians (30 per cent) say that they would move to another part of the country or a different city/region, in order to keep their present job or advance, or to change careers/find new work.

Fully half (50 per cent) of Canadians believe the province of Alberta is creating the most jobs in Canada right now, followed by Ontario (22 per cent), Saskatchewan (nine per cent), B.C. (seven per cent) and Quebec (six per cent).

“We’re becoming more concerned about employment prospects in Canada,” commented Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC. “The past two years have started out with strong employment numbers and then finished on a weak note. Unfortunately, we’ve now seen 2011’s year-end weakness spill over into the beginning of this year. This, combined with the current unsettled environment due to ongoing concerns about the U.S. and European economies, leaves us cautious about the outlook for 2012.”

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