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North Americans Were More Optimistic About Job Prospects in Q4 2012
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North Americans Were More Optimistic About Job Prospects in Q4 2012

North Americans expressed mixed feelings about the economy in Q4 2012, as confidence dipped marginally by one index point to 90 from Q3 and optimism about job prospects increased, according to findings from the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. Sentiment about employment prospects among North Americans increased three percentage points to 40 percent in Q4.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 29,000 respondents with Internet access in 58 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.

Seven-in-10 North Americans surveyed (71%) believed they were in a recession in Q4, an improvement from 77 percent in the previous quarter. Of those respondents, more than half (55%) believed recessionary conditions would live on for another year, a six-point improvement from the same period in 2011. The number of U.S. respondents who said they were in a recession fell to 74 percent in Q4 2012 from 81 percent in Q3.

Consumer confidence in the U.S. decreased one index point in Q4 to 89 and increased one index point in Canada to a score of 100.

“In the U.S., while the labor market has continued to improve and gas prices have moderated, it was not enough to offset the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff, the potential for rising taxes and the rhetoric around the potential for a subsequent recession during the end of 2013,” said James Russo, senior vice president, Global Consumer Insights, Nielsen.

“The stakes are high and consumers continue to be tuned into the economic climate, as it remains their number one concern,” continued Russo. “However, a housing market recovery, of which there are initial promising signs, would go a long way to boost employment, consumer confidence and a much stronger U.S. growth trajectory. As we enter 2013, it’s clear that consumers have not yet rebounded from the Great Recession, which began five years ago, but if investment in the labor market strengthens, the economy will rebound in the second half of the year. Until then, consumers remain in maintenance mode as uncertainty dominates the sentiment.”

Other notable findings include:

  • Declining confidence in Europe spread from troubled to core countries
  • Consumer confidence in developing Asia-Pacific markets outperformed developed ones
  • Latin American respondents were confident for the year ahead
  • Consumer confidence declined among Middle Easterners/Africans

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q4 2012 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Nov. 10-27, 2012 and polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10 million online population for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.