Responses from business leaders show a slight increase in economic confidence after the significant dip in March 2013, but the overall confidence remains at the lowest level in recent years. Most indices, other than future interest rates, also reflect this rise. There was an 18.5% increase of confidence in current business conditions and a 13.4% increase of confidence in future business conditions. The confidence in future unemployment and fiscal conditions remained relatively stable, with only 6.7% and 8.1% increases respectively. The fiscal conditions index has remained relatively stable over the past year (89 in May 2012 and 80 in May 2013). However, there was a 13.1% decrease of confidence that future interest rates will remain stable.
The Northern Gateway Pipeline project
When business leaders were asked how BC Liberal party’s Christy Clark’s re-election would impact the negotiations between Alberta and BC regarding the Northern Gateway Pipeline project, they were optimistic. About 41% believe the project was more likely to be approved with Clark back in office. Around a quarter of those surveyed believed the project was less likely to be approved. Around 16% of respondents thought there wouldn’t be an impact on the project and 20% were unsure of the outcome.
“Many Albertans have high hopes for the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. Although there are concerns halting the project, decisions could change with the review panel in December, 2013. ” says Ian Gunn, Alberta Private Company Services Leader at PwC Calgary.
When consumers were asked the same question, opinions were divided; 27% believed the project was less likely to be approved, 23% believed the project was more likely to get approved, 23% thought there would be no impact and 27% were unsure.
In line with their business counterparts, consumers’ confidence in the economy has increased slightly, by two points, compared to March 2013, led mainly by a more optimistic view of spending by consumers. Overall confidence indicators among consumers are more stable compared to the confidence levels of business leaders.
Consumers’ views on career prospects
Consumers feel that unemployment will decrease slightly, as evidenced by the slight decline of 3.8% in confidence between March and May 2013. However, they feel that future household income will decrease as well, indicated by the slight drop of 1.6% between March and May 2013.
Albertan consumers were asked which career choices they would steer a young person towards when considering the future. The majority of respondents, 63%, would recommend a career in the skilled trade professions or technical professions (52%). Independent professions, e.g. doctor, lawyer, chartered accountant was the response of 45% of Albertans.
“Based on the current economic landscape, the opinions around the skilled trade professions are expected. It’s an immense opportunity for our economy to grow and for our workforce to become better-rounded.” says Gunn.
The PwC Business and Consumer Confidence Index tracks and determines business and consumer confidence in the current and future Alberta economy.