BC Economy To Improve, Residents Say: RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook

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British Columbians are an optimistic bunch when it comes to the economy despite soaring personal debt.

That's the conclusion from Royal Bank of Canada's Canadian Consumer Outlook released Tuesday, which shows that more West Coasters are confident about their local economies (cities, villages, towns) improving than anywhere else in the country.

The outlook shows that 26 per cent of British Columbians expect that their local economy will improve, up from 10 per cent in 2011. The next most confident province is Alberta at 22 per cent, but its confidence did not change from 2011 levels.

Confidence in B.C. local economies grew more year-over-year than any other Canadian region, with the next highest growth coming in Quebec, from nine per cent in 2011 to 16 per cent in 2012.

The least optimistic regions were Ontario and Atlantic Canada at 13 per cent. Ontarians' confidence grew three per cent from 2011 and Maritimers' confidence grew by two per cent.

British Columbians aren't just optimistic about their own economies. 35 per cent expect the Canadian economy to improve, compared with 27 per cent in 2011.

The only province more confident about the economy's prospects is Alberta, where 42 per cent of residents believe the economy will improve.

Canadians aren't as optimistic overall. 29 per cent of residents believe the economy will improve, compared with 26 per cent last year.

The outlook also shows that British Columbians are more concerned with spending less than reducing their debt... despite reports that British Columbians have more personal debt than anywhere else in Canada.

29 per cent of West Coasters say they'll look to reduce their spending in 2013, while 26 per cent say they'll look to reduce their debt.

By way of comparison, 31 per cent of Canadians care about reducing their debt, compared to 26 per cent who want to spend less in 2013.

The Vancouver Sun reported that B.C.'s average consumer debt is $38,837, up 6.2 per cent since last year.

That's well above the Canadian average of $13,141 in debt per person.

"Canadians may believe brighter days are ahead because they are making resolutions to better manage their finances by reducing debt and curbing spending not because of their outlook on the Canadian economy," Richard Goyder, RBC's vice-president of lending, said in a news release.

British Columbians aren't just optimistic about their own economies. 35 per cent expect the Canadian economy to improve, compared with 27 per cent in 2011.

The only province more confident about the economy's prospects is Alberta, where 42 per cent of residents believe the economy will improve.

Canadians aren't as optimistic overall. 29 per cent of residents believe the economy will improve, compared with 26 per cent last year.

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