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BCers’ fears of a recession are casting a negative light on expectations both for the Canadian economy and personal household finances in the future

Vancouver, BC – British Columbians are feeling both confident and shaky when it comes to the Canadian economy’s prospects and their own financial situation over the next 12 months. According to Insights West’s “2019 Canadian Economic Insights Monitor”, 64% of BC residents rate their confidence in the Canadian economy as “good” or “very good”, but an equally large number (62%) feels a recession is imminent within the next 12 months.

Insight West’s mid-point 2019 check-up poll on economic confidence shows that BC residents feel as confident about the state of the Canadian economy relative to the last measure in January of 2019. A total of 64% of BC residents rate their confidence as good (60%) or very good (4%), which is similar to the ratings of good (58%) or very good (6%) at the beginning of the year. Opinions are less negative at the opposite end of the scale where 30% rate existing economic conditions as poor (24%) or very poor (6%)—which is actually better than the number rating conditions as poor (28%) and very poor (15%) in January.

British Columbians are also holding steady on their confidence levels towards their household finances. A total of 69% describe the state of their household finances today as good (56%) or very good (13%), again a nearly identical number to January 2019.

Despite an overall positive feeling about their own finances, BCers still have worries about various aspects of their financial situation, the biggest being the value of their personal investments. Insights West has tracked these over the past several years, and in the last few surveys, the ranking of those concerns has been relatively unchanged relative to January. A total of 65% (-3%) of British Columbians say they are worried about the value of their investments, the safety of their savings (62%, -3%), being able to pay their bills (54%, no change) or their balance on a credit card (49%, +3%), or unemployment affecting their household (46%, -2%). Smaller proportions are concerned about being able to pay their mortgage or rent (37%, no change) or about their employer running into financial trouble (28%, -3%).

Recession Worries are Looming

With a large number of economists, stock commentators and the media talking about the possibility of a recession, it may come as no surprise to find that the majority of British Columbians believe a nation-wide recession is imminent—62% believe that a recession is likely to happen in the next 12 months, with 14% feeling it is very likely and 48% feeling it is somewhat likely.

Men in British Columbia are more likely than women (66% vs. 57%) to expect a nation-wide recession in the next 12 months, as are those with incomes of more than $75,000 per year (64% vs. 59% of those under $75,000 per year).

The Future is Iffy?

The expectation of an upcoming recession is tainting BCers’ confidence in the future of the Canadian economy.

The figures for August 2019 show that 38% of BC residents expect the Canadian economy to take a decline within the next six months (up from 33% in January and significantly up from the 17% who felt that way at the beginning of 2017).

Likewise, more BCers are expecting a decline in their household finances, rising from 11% in January 2019 to 16% in August—although the vast majority (64% in August) expect their situation to remain the same.

“While overall confidence in the economy as a whole is rather optimistic, there are some major storm clouds on the horizon,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “Our economic tracker shows that while there hasn’t been a significant dip in how people feel about the economy or towards their overall personal household finances, the fact that the majority of British Columbians now feel as though a recession is quite likely in the next twelve months means that consumer sentiment is volatile, and it wouldn’t take much to turn sentiment negative—a subsequent downturn could be a self-fulfilled prophesy.”

The full report of Insight West’s 2019 Canadian Economic Insights Monitor, British Columbia Focus from August 2019, is available for download here.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from August 29 – September 3, 2019 among a representative sample of 819 adult residents of British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West