Confidence levels improving for Alberta’s business leaders and consumers

More than 200 of Alberta’s business leaders and more than 900 consumers indicated that their overall confidence in the economy is increasing since July 2012, reversing a downward trend that began in March 2012. The unemployment index steadied in September—following a decline that also began in March 201—indicating both business leaders and consumers are becoming less apprehensive about the job market.

“The reversal of the downward trend we’ve been seeing since March 2012 is a strong statement about the optimism both business leaders and consumers have about the Alberta economy,” says Ian Gunn, Alberta Private Company Services Leader at PwC Calgary.

While the general view of fiscal conditions has remained relatively steady for the past 12 months, the future interest rate index decreased slightly amongst business leaders—after falling sharply in May 2012 and increasing significantly again in July—signifying that more business leaders once again expect interest rates to rise. An upward trend since May 2012 indicates that while more consumers are becoming optimistic with respect to interest rates, overall they still anticipate some increase. The survey also highlighted that while 44% of business leaders consider their business taxes to be too high, 38% believe tax amounts to be “just about right”.

Consumer opinion regarding the housing market has remained consistently high for the past year. After dipping slightly in May 2012, the majority of respondents continue to believe that now is generally a good time to buy a home with 72% of Edmontonians and 64% of Calgarians indicating they feel the housing market is affordable.

When asked about their opinions toward recent topics in the media, an overwhelming 82% of business leaders surveyed confirmed their support of Premier Allison Redford’s stance that Alberta shouldn’t give up any energy royalties to British Columbia around the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.

As the United States Presidential election draws near, both business leaders and consumers were also asked to comment on their choice of candidate. When asked—from a purely Alberta perspective—which candidate they believed would be most beneficial to the Alberta economy, 42% of business leaders chose Republican nominee Mitt Romney over current President Barrack Obama, who received 33% support amongst business leaders. Conversely, when asked which candidate would be most beneficial to Alberta in general, 47% of consumers chose President Obama, with only 22% support for Romney.