Confidence on an upswing

Canadians are feeling a little more positive about the economy and their personal prospects, a new consumer confidence survey from the Conference Board suggests.

OTTAWA — Canadians are feeling a little more positive about the economy and their personal prospects, a new consumer confidence survey from the Conference Board suggests.

The think-tank’s monthly index rose 5.1 per cent in May, more than offsetting the previous month’s decline, as respondents said they were less pessimistic about the job market and saw the potential for improvement in their own personal finances.

While a good result — especially combined with a boost in confidence registered in the United Sates for the month — the Canadian index reading of 80.7 remains well below its base value of 100.

That indicates “confidence is still low by historical standards,” said the Conference Board in an analysis of the results.

“Regional values also indicate that this month’s increase was not evenly distributed. Confidence increased in Central Canada, offsetting declines registered in the West. Confidence in Atlantic Canada was little changed.”

Responses on the jobs question was less negative, but not necessarily more positive, giving a confusing picture, said the report.

While just 16 per cent of respondents said they expected more jobs to be available six months from now, a half-point drop from April, there were fewer respondents in May that said job prospects would worsen — 22.9 per cent compared to 27.2 for the previous month.

Still, the balance of opinion on jobs remained negative, only less so.

As well, Canadians were marginally more positive about their future finances, with more saying they expected their personal situation to improve and fewer saying they expected a deterioration in their finances.

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