Economic optimism holding: Poll
Canadians' outlook shaken by terrorism but not demolished
Les Whittington
OTTAWA - Canadians' economic confidence has been dented but not demolished by the terrorism crisis, a new national poll shows.

With the economy brought to a grinding halt by the Sept. 11 attacks, many Canadians are worried about their short-term financial future and say they may put off major purchases, according to the survey by EKOS Research Associates Inc.

But over-all, the public's economic outlook has not been badly shaken by the fall-out from the terrorist attacks. The survey found only 19 per cent said they think "there's a good chance" they could lose their job in the next couple years.

In contrast, 63 per cent said they did not expect to get laid off, while 15 per cent didn't know.

"The short-term impact on economic confidence is surprisingly modest and optimism, although declining, is still relatively strong and job security remains very strongly intact," EKOS President Frank Graves said.

The findings reflect Canada's resilient employment picture. Even though the economic climate has deteriorated sharply this year, the jobless rate has held steady in the 7 per cent range.

While the public's worries are less pronounced than expected as a result of the terrorist crisis, "there is measurable concern" as the shockwaves spread through the stock markets and business, the pollsters said.

Only 33 per cent of those polled believe their personal financial situation will be better next year than it is today, EKOS reported. At the same time, 47 per cent said their financial position would be the same next year and 18 per cent had no opinion.

EKOS found significant differences based on age and gender. Women are significantly more pessimistic about the economic future than men, and those over 45 have greater concerns. That is likely because older people are thinking of retirement and have more money tied up in a faltering stock market, Graves said.

"Maybe they've already seen their Nortel stocks go through the floor" and they're wondering how they can afford to ever retire, he said.

Asked if they would put off major expenditures in the next few months, 30 per cent said they would postpone buying big-ticket items, while 50 per cent said they would go ahead with such purchases and 20 per cent said they didn't know.

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