Canadians fearful about jobs, confidence slips

Shadows are seen as a man walks down Bay Street in the financial district in Toronto, March 11, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian consumers are far less optimistic than employers about job prospects, according to a survey released on Tuesday that contradicts data showing three straight months of stronger-than-expected employment growth.

The Conference Board of Canada’s consumer confidence index slipped in July for the third straight month, down 1.8 points to 81.3.

The single biggest negative factor cited in the survey was worsening employment outlook. Only 18.5 percent of respondents said they expected more jobs in their area six months from now, down 2.1 percentage points from June to the lowest level in nine months.

“To make matters worse, the share of respondents who said they expect fewer jobs rose to 21.9 percent -- the highest level since 2009,” the Conference Board said in a release.

Recent employment numbers in the United States have been dismal, setting back hopes of a solid recovery and helping to drive down U.S. consumer confidence to near a 2-1/2 year low in early July.

Canada’s job market has fared much better, adding 28,400 positions in June in a sign the economy is expanding at a healthy clip. The Bank of Canada’s second-quarter business outlook survey showed managers’ hiring intentions were at a record high.

On the bright side, consumer sentiment improved on the question of current and future finances, the Conference Board said. However, the balance of opinion was negative on the question of whether now was a good time to make a major purchase such as a car or a home.

Regionally, the manufacturing hub of Ontario saw the biggest deterioration in sentiment in July while consumers in the energy and agriculturally rich Prairie provinces were the most upbeat.

Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by Rob Wilson