02/09/2012 10:37 EST | Updated 07/16/2012 05:05 EDT

RBC Consumer Confidence Outlook: Canadians Quickly Losing Economic Optimism, Report Says

Canadians are rapidly losing confidence in the economy and their own economic prospects, a new report from RBC has found.

The bank’s Consumer Confidence Outlook reports that the number of Canadians expressing optimism has dropped by nearly half in the past two years: From 56 per cent in 2010, to 32 per cent this year.

More than half of Canadians have changed their shopping habits as a result of concerns over the economy, the report stated.

Even booming Alberta wasn’t spared the negativity, with 43 per cent of residents expressing confidence about their prospects, down from 48 per cent a year ago.

"We're becoming more concerned about employment prospects in Canada," chief RBC economist Craig Wright said in a statement. "The past two years have started out with strong employment numbers and then finished on a weak note. Unfortunately, we've now seen 2011's year-end weakness spill over into the beginning of this year. This, combined with the current unsettled environment due to ongoing concerns about the U.S. and European economies, leaves us cautious about the outlook for 2012."

Craig noted that Albertans, in particular, have less reason to worry than residents of other parts of the country.

"Coming off a very active year, in which the oil industry acted as a catalyst across a number of sectors, Alberta's job market is expected to continue to boom," he said.

Interestingly, Albertans were also found to be among the most willing people to relocate for work, with 18 per cent saying they’re willing to move. Only Atlantic Canadians, at 19 per cent, are more willing.

The report also found that nearly one in five Canadians, or 18 per cent, say they are working in a field that is not appropriate for their skills or training -- another sign that Canada’s labour skills may be increasingly mismatched as the country’s economy changes in the wake of the economic downturn.

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