03/09/2015 11:13 EDT | Updated 05/09/2015 05:59 EDT

Canada's consumer confidence plunged in February on poor job prospects

Canadian consumer confidence fell sharply in February, driven down in part by a perception of poor future job prospects.

The Conference Board of Canada's index of consumer confidence fell 11.4 points to 95.6 in February, with the slide steepest in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Only Quebec showed no deterioration in confidence.

Alberta’s index was at a low of 54.7 points, continuing a steep slide it began six months ago.

The index measures Canadians’ confidence about their current and future financial situations, their willingness to make a major purchase, and the future job prospects in their region, with Canadians surveyed between Feb. 2 and Feb. 13. The Conference Board surveys 3,000 Canadians.

The survey was taken two weeks after the Bank of Canada made a surprise cut in interest rates, driving down the Canadian dollar.

Oil contracts were trading below $50 in New York, threatening jobs and cutbacks throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan.

On top of paying their credit card bills from holiday shopping, Canadians were coming to grips with bad news from the retail sector, including higher grocery prices and the closing of Target stores across the country.

The survey also caught eastern Canada in the midst of a deep freeze, with frequent snow storms keeping consumers at home.

Not much optimism over jobs

There was a sharp jump in the number of respondents saying the job market in their region would deteriorate in the months ahead, especially in Alberta, Saskatchewan-Manitoba and Ontario.

About 39.6 per cent said there would be fewer jobs, up from 30 per cent in January, and the number expecting more jobs fell to 7.7 per cent from 9.7 per cent.

Canadians were also less confident that this was a good time to make a major purchase, with 42.8 per cent saying it was a bad time, up from 38.8 per cent.

About 23 per cent of respondents said they were financially worse off than they were six months ago, up from 20 per cent in January.  And 16.5 per cent believed they'd be worse off six months from now, compared with 14.3 per cent last month.