Last week, Danielle Smith, Alberta’s newest premier, tweeted out an image that showed Alberta as being the only province in Canada to see an increase in consumer confidence between October and November.
Given that the only datapoint that Smith highlighted was Alberta’s increase in its index ranking and that she had excluded the actual ranking, I was left wondering whether Alberta’s ranking was less impressive.
That wouldn’t be the first time the UCP government left out contextual information in order to present Alberta’s economic image as a positive one. After all, if Alberta’s economy seems to be growing, then it’s easy for the UCP to take credit for it.
So, I decided to check out the data from the Conference Board of Canada, which Smith based her map on.
Now, for the public to be able to access this data, they have to pay $335 to the Conference Board of Canada. Which makes it challenging for a voter to critically examine Smith’s claim from an objective lens, and makes it more convenient for Smith and her party to present a specific narrative.
But have no fear. I was able to get access to the data, and now I’m going to share it with you.
Before we get into the data, however, let’s briefly go over what the consumer confidence is.
The consumer confidence survey has been ongoing since 1960 and is conducted monthly by The Conference Board of Canada through Leger.
The Index of Consumer Confidence is constructed from responses to 4 attitudinal questions posed to a sample of Canadian households.
- Their households’ current financial position
- Their households’ expected financial position
- Their short-term employment outlook
- Whether now is a good or a bad time to make a major purchase
The latest results are based on responses to our online survey of over 3,000 Canadians.
Now. into the data.
First, Smith is right. Alberta saw the largest increase in the consumer confidence index, among all geographic areas in Canada in November 2022. Well, technically, the data is as of 1 November 2022, so it’s really more like October’s data.
So, she what she was saying is technically true.
But, what about the actual ranking.
|1 Nov 2022|
Keep in mind that the index is rounded up, so the actual ranking doesn’t account for the decimal increases or decreases I listed earlier.
Here is an updated map that Twitter user BeadSpiller put together with the new data.
What we see here is that while Alberta did indeed have the most improved ranking, their ranking is still the lowest in the country. In fact, it’s 17 points lower than Manitoba/Saskatchewan, the next lowest, and nearly 50 points lower than Québec, which had the highest consumer confidence.
And since we have the lowest ranking even though we had the only increase, that means that last month’s ranking was even worse.
|1 Oct 2022|
Sure enough, at the beginning of October, Alberta was separated from Manitoba/Saskatchewan by 26 points and almost 60 points from Québec.
Not only that, but Alberta’s ranking of 38 in November 2022, while higher than the 35 we saw in October, is still lower than the 48 we saw in September.
Now, watch what happens when we compare the province rankings last month to what they were a year ago.
|Nov 2021||Nov 2022||Change||% change|
Every province saw a decrease in their ranking over the last year, but Alberta was tied with Québec in having the second lowest decrease. However, when we look at the percentage decrease, Alberta had the second largest decrease, relative to where they sat last November.
Finally, here’s how each area looks when we compare the index to November 2020:
|Nov 2020||Nov 2022||Change||% change|
Alberta wasn’t alone in seeing a loss in its index ranking over the last 2 years. In fact, the Manitoba/Saskatchewan region was the only area that saw an increase, and they increased by just one point.
Three regions saw decreases in their index ranking that were larger than Alberta’s increases. Atlantic Canada and BC both saw a drop of 12 points, and Québec fell by 19 points, the largest drop of all.
However, if we look at the drops relative the their 2020 ranking, Alberta saw the largest drop.
In fact, not only was their decrease of 22.45% the largest of all regions, but no other region saw a decline larger than 20%.