Calgary Herald

Business, consumer confidence climbing

- MARIO TONEGUZZI MTONEGUZZI@CALGARYHER­ALD.COM

Alberta business leaders continue to express confidence in the provincial economy, according to a new survey.

The Leger Marketing survey, conducted last month for Pricewater­housecoope­rs, found business leaders generally optimistic about what lies ahead.

“It’s the general confidence that the economy is solid. The pricing in gas is off, that’s for sure, but oil’s been staying pretty steady,” said Ian Gunn of Pricewater­housecoope­rs. “There’s strong indication­s the activity levels in the oilsands are continuing. Projects are not getting slowed down.”

The survey found business leaders’ confidence in the economy has continued to grow in 2012 after a dip in the second half of last year. The future unemployme­nt index is also up, and now on par with the highest levels observed since 2007.

Executives’ views on business conditions have also been on the upswing since September 2011.

Those views mirror the findings of a Canadian Federation of Independen­t Business measure this week that showed optimism among Alberta’s small-business owners were the highest in the country for the fourth straight month.

The consumer portion of the PWC survey showed confidence remains consistent after reaching its highest level in January.

Gunn said consumers have been encouraged by the positive employment picture in the province.

“That says to anyone, that there has to be something good about the economy if there’s an anticipate­d continual demand for work for a long time,” he said.

Alberta business leaders were surveyed via an online questionna­ire distribute­d to a sample of members from the Edmonton and Calgary chambers of Commerce. A total of 247 business leaders responded.

A total of 900 Albertans were interviewe­d by phone with the sample weighted to represent the normal distributi­on of Albertans as reported by Statistics Canada. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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