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Canadians Losing Confidence in Economy: RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook

Fewer Canadians carrying personal debt, but feel they are "standing still" financially

TORONTO, October 26, 2011— Canadians have lost confidence that the national economy or their personal financial situation will improve any time soon, according to the RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index (opens PDF in new window) (RBC CCO), released today.

Just under one-third (32 per cent) of Canadians indicate they feel positive about the outlook for the domestic economy (opens PDF in new window) over the next year, down from 43 per cent in 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 (opens PDF in new window) will improve, compared to 38 per cent in 2011 and 45 per cent in 2010.

The RBC CCO 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 (opens PDF in new window)" 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 (opens PDF in new window).

"We're encouraged to see that Canadians are trying to find ways to manage their finances, which is particularly crucial given the current economic environment," said Dave McKay, group head, Canadian Banking, RBC. "Reducing debt is a very good goal, but having money set aside for something unforeseen is also important. Sitting down with a financial planner to ensure you balance day-to-day-costs with growing your savings and planning for the unexpected should be part of your complete financial plan."

Job (opens PDF in new window) 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 (opens PDF in new window) 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," explained 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."

The RBC CCO is Canada's most comprehensive consumer assessment of the economy, personal financial situation and economic and purchasing expectations. Other national highlights from the February 2012 RBC CCO include:

  • Major Purchases: More than half (53 per cent) of Canadian families have changed the timing of major purchases - such as a car, household appliances or vacation spending - due to current economic conditions. Almost half (47 per cent) expect that their family will spend less on such purchases in the upcoming year.
  • Job Skills: Almost two-in-ten Canadians (18 per cent) say that they are working in a job or field that does not fit their skills/training/education; 22 per cent report that someone in their household is going to be upgrading their skills due to a change in their employment situation.

The national RBC CCO release, full set of regional releases and related comparative data charts can be accessed via

About RBC's debt management and other financial advice and interactive tools
Whether Canadians want to get more from their day to day banking, protect what's important, save and invest, borrow with confidence or take care of their businesses, the RBC Advice Centre can help answer their questions. Interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of personal finance, including the Debt Reduction Plan and the Debt Consolidation Calculator. With the guidance of RBC advisors who are available to chat live, Canadians have access to free, no-obligation professional advice about RBC products and services and personalized one-on-one service. Further information is available at In addition, RBC's myFinanceTracker, a comprehensive online financial management tool, offers all personal RBC online banking clients the ability, at no cost, to create a set budget and track their spending habits and to access H&R Block tax-related apps in the new myTax Centre, to help manage and plan their taxes.

About the RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index
Benchmarked as of November 2009, the RBC CCO is conducted online via Ipsos Reid's national I-Say Consumer Panel. Data collection was January 9 to 16, 2012, via 4,479 Canadians (490 British Columbia, 498 Alberta, 538 Saskatchewan/Manitoba, 1,395 Ontario, 921 Quebec, 635 Atlantic Canada). Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±1.65 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled.

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For more information, please contact:

Kathy Bevan, RBC Corporate Communications,
416 974-2727,

Elyse Lalonde, RBC Media Relations,
416 974-8810,


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