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U.S. Job Prospects Heat Up While Canadian Consumer Confidence Cools Down
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U.S. Job Prospects Heat Up While Canadian Consumer Confidence Cools Down

U.S. consumer confidence increased one index point in the first quarter to a score of 107, maintaining an above-the-baseline optimism level for a year now in Nielsen’s Global Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions Survey. Conversely, confidence declined six points in Canada to a score of 96, marking the country’s lowest score since 2012.

While overall confidence has risen for four consecutive quarters in the U.S., the only confidence indicator that increased in the first quarter was job prospects, which rose five percentage points to 55%. Personal finance sentiment and immediate spending intentions each declined two percentage points, dropping to 62% and 50%, respectively, from fourth-quarter 2014.

“In the U.S., optimism continued to move forward in the first quarter, likely influenced by the addition of nearly 600,000 new jobs and low gasoline prices, which put more money in consumers’ wallets,” said James Russo, senior vice president, Nielsen Global Consumer Insights. “Consumer spending picked up in the first quarter, with fast-moving consumer goods sales rising 2.5%, compared to an annual increase of only 1.4% during 2014. While 2015 is off to a good start, half of Americans are still in a recessionary mindset, and nearly 35% say they live paycheck to paycheck. As this undercurrent of uncertainty still permeates, consumers continue to think carefully about how and where they spend their money.”

In Canada, a downbeat economic outlook led to a 10-percentage point decline in sentiment about job prospects to 44%—the lowest level since 2009—and a six-percentage point decline for immediate spending intentions to 37%, the lowest level since 2012. Sentiment about personal finances also dropped, falling seven percentage points to 55% from fourth-quarter 2014.

“In Canada, consumer confidence still remains volatile and uncertain even though the recession is well behind us,” said Carman Allison, vice president of consumer insights, Nielsen Canada. “There are myriad factors in the Canadian market that are currently contributing to a decline in optimism. A drop in confidence is normal following the holiday spending season when the bills start rolling in, but this year consumers were also reeling from the effects of the coldest winter in 25 years, which led many to spend more time indoors. Exacerbating the situation further was the drop in oil prices, which led to significant job losses in the country. While consumers may be saving at the pump, the cost of most other essentials is on the rise, and inflationary pressures still plague wallets.”

Other findings include:

  • Consumer confidence rises one point to a global index score of 97.
  • European consumer confidence makes significant strides in key markets.
  • Nine of 14 countries in Asia-Pacific start the year at or above a baseline reading of 100.
  • Global concerns about the economy and job security decreased while health and work/life balance concerns increased.
  • Confidence in Latin America declines to the lowest level since 2011.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q1 2015 Global Consumer Confidence Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Feb. 23 – March 13, 2015, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 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 its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The sub-Saharan African countries in this study are compiled from a separate mobile methodology survey among 1,600 respondents in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.