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Prairie residents extremely optimistic about economy

By Daniel Kosir |

Despite the fact that costs for basic commodities like food and gas continue to rise rapidly, people in the Prairies remain optimistic about the nation's economy and their own economic standing, and are making adjustments to handle economic changes.

According to the July 2011 RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index (RBC CCO), just over a third of residents (36 per cent) claim that the rising prices of these commodities have impacted their budgets significantly - the lowest impact in the country.

Though Prairie residents carry an average personal debt of $11, 836 excluding mortgages, the second lowest in Canada, 51 per cent feel that they could be managing their overall debts more effectively. In light of increasing food and gas prices and other changing economic conditions, people in the region plan to:

  • Comparison shop more (53 per cent);
  • Follow a budget more closely (44 per cent); and
  • Use their vehicles less (33 per cent).

"Resilient and optimistic are how we would best describe Prairie residents," said Rob Johnston, RBC regional president for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Western Ontario. "They're refining their budgets, not only to handle rising daily costs, but also to manage debts and save for the future."

Prairies predict prosperity

The RBC CCO shows that Prairie residents share a positive outlook when it comes to the Canadian economy. Eighty-two per cent of survey respondents rate the current national economy as "good," a number well above the 66 per cent national average. In both Manitoba and Saskatchewan, residents are also confident that the Canadian economy will improve within the next year, at 48 and 42 per cent, respectively.

Furthermore, provincial economies in the Prairie region are expected to grow throughout 2011 and 2012 according to the most recent RBC Economic Outlook.

"Continued global demand for most natural resource products will mean real GDP growth in Saskatchewan of 3.8 per cent for 2011 and 4.7 per cent in 2012," said RBC's senior VP and chief economist Craig Wright.

"Manitoba should benefit from natural resources' demand as well, which will boost mining activity in the province. With continued growth in manufacturing output in the province, we forecast real GDP growth of 3.6 per cent in 2011 and 3.4 per cent in 2012," he added.

Additional findings

  • 27 per cent of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents are more likely to delay vacation plans until next year due to changing economic factors, compared to 34 per cent of Ontarians and 26 per cent of those in Quebec and Alberta
  • 41 per cent of Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents expect their personal finances to improve over the next year, slightly above the 39 per cent national average
  • Half of Prairie residents have held off on major purchases due to the current economy, up seven per cent since the last quarter but still under the national average of 58 per cent

The national RBC CCO release, full set of regional releases and related comparative data charts can be accessed via RBC's Media Newsroom.

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