10/03/2013 07:37 EDT | Updated 12/03/2013 05:12 EST

Canadians more optimistic about the economy: Nanos

Canadians are more optimistic about the economy than they were two years ago, according to the latest BloombergNanos Canadian Confidence Index. But that confidence may begin to wane, if the government shutdown in the United States continues. 

The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index tracks Canadian confidence in the economy and in their own personal finances weekly. During the last full week in September, 21 per cent of Canadians thought they were better off compared to a year ago when it came to their personal finances. That was unchanged from September 2011.

Twenty-seven per cent said they were worse off, up 3 points from two years ago. Fifty-one per cent of Canadians said their personal finances were the same compared to a year ago, that's only a 3 point drop from September 2011.

But the real change was when respondents were asked if in the next six months the Canadian economy will become stronger or weaker.

Twenty-two per cent said the economy will become stronger. That's up 16 points from 2011. Seventeen per cent thought the economy will get weaker, that's down 22 points from 2011. Fifty-seven per cent said there would be no change in the next six months, up 15 points.

The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index is based on weekly measurements. This one ended Sept. 27, 2013. It is a random telephone (both cell and landline) survey of 1,000 Canadians, using a four-week rolling average of 250 respondents each week. It is accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The 2011 statistics are also from the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index, but are from an online survey conducted comprised of a representative online sample of 1,200 Canadians. There is no margin of error.

The latest tracking numbers show consumer confidence is up right now, but it is still vulnerable to outside forces, including the partial shutdown of the government in the U.S.

Nanos said in 2011 confidence numbers were low because "the world was in the grips of the euro-zone crisis, as a result Canadians became quite jittery." Even though the debt crisis in Europe is far from over, fear and attention in the media has subsided, and confidence in the economy has risen.

A lot of times external events have an impact on the way Canadians feel about their own economy. The partial shutdown of government in the U.S., and the looming Oct. 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling "is likely to send a chill effect on Canadian consumer confidence," Nanos said.

Nanos said even if the Canadian economy is strong, if there is uncertainty in the United States, Canada's biggest trading partner, it will likely have an effect on consumer confidence in the economy.

Looking ahead to the government's throne speech on Oct. 17, Nanos warns that while these numbers are good for the Conservatives, it is still a long way until the election.

The government is expected to announce policies in the throne speech that are aimed at helping and protecting Canadian consumers, but Nanos warned that is not an issue that drives voters.

What the Conservatives have to remember is "what drives votes are issues related to the economy," Nanos said.

Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC News Network's Power & Politics to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives. Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a Fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association and a Research Associate Professor with SUNY (Buffalo).