Poll finds increased optimism on economy with 54 per cent expecting better year

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Canadians are starting to put their confidence back in the economy and many believe things getting better this year, according to a new survey from Pollara Strategic Research.
The study found that 54 per cent of Canadians surveyed in December expected the economy will improve in 2010. That's far more optimistic than at the same time last year, when Canada was in the midst of a major global recession.
Only 20 per cent of those surveyed in the previous poll for the Economic Club of Canada expected 2009 would bring better times.
The latest Pollara poll also found 17 per cent of respondents believe Canada is in a period of moderate growth, compared with only six per cent who felt that way in 2009.
Pollara chairman Michael Marzolini told the Economic Club of Canada on Wednesday that while many Canadians' fears about the economy have abated, "the public has now shifted to focus on the growing national debt."
Marzolini said that the number of Canadians expecting higher taxes has doubled since the survey last year.
The poll results were collected from 4,263 respondents on Pollara's online panel between Dec. 6-14. A sample of this size is considered to be accurate within 1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The Pollara poll is the latest evidence that the Canadian economy is on the mend, after suffering the biggest downturn in decades starting in the latter part of 2008 and continuing until at least mid-2009.
Although the Bank of Canada declared last summer that the recession had ended, and Statistics Canada's reports on gross domestic product have supported that conclusion, some regions and some economic sectors are still struggling.
The Bank of Canada has also warned that a stronger Canadian dollar could offset economic gains, by making exports to the United States less competitive.
The Canadian dollar traded at about 96.3 cents US on Wednesday morning, up about 1 1/2 cents over the past week.
Craig Wright, chief economist for RBC Financial Group, said that he expects the loonie to rise above the U.S. dollar in the coming months before falling back to its current levels below parity by the end of the year.
"We look at consumer spending picking up, some government spending going forward," Wright said.
The Pollara poll found a majority of those surveyed don't think the recession has ended, indicating a continuing divide between how Main Street and Bay Street view the economy.
More than three-quarters of Canadians surveyed by Pollara (78 per cent) still believed Canada is still in recession, but that's down from 91 per cent a year ago,
The percentage of Canadians who felt the economy will worsen also dropped to 14 per cent, down from 57 per cent.Regarding employment, 43 per cent said they think the situation will improve - compared with 12 per cent a year ago.
The number who felt the employment situation will worsen in 2010 dropped to 22 per cent, down from 68 per cent.?

Organizations: Pollara Strategic Research, Economic Club of Canada, Bank of Canada Statistics Canada RBC Financial Group

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Bay Street

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