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It's really gloomy out there Add to ...

Thursday has brought more gloomy tunes from both sides of the 49th parallel.

A "Workplace Blues Survey" conducted by a Canadian careers college has found that 23 per cent of Canadians now fear they may lose their jobs, while a poll conducted by Royal Bank of Canada's U.S. unit found that consumer sentiment among Americans has hit a new six-year low.

The Canadian survey, conducted for Everest College of Toronto by Harris/Decima, pegs Monday, Jan. 19, as this year's "Blue Monday," which it bills as the "most depressing day of the year due to such factors as broken New Year's resolutions, inclement weather and a flurry of holiday bills to pay."

Among other things, the poll found that 71 per cent of Canadians say they suffer "at least occasional bouts of work-induced blues," up from 63 per cent last year, while 57 per cent figure they are not at all optimistic that they will get a promotion over the next year. As well, 33 per cent fear they would be unable to find a new job if they were to look for one.

(Everest said 619 employed adults were polled in the survey, which was conducted between Nov. 27 and Dec. 1 and that the results are accurate to within plus or minus 3.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.)

As for the latest edition of the RBC CASH index (an acronym for consumer attitudes and spending by household), it has fallen to 13.3 this month from 15.3 in December, the bank said, noting that the baseline value assigned to the index when it was introduced seven years ago was 100. This came "as Americans continued to be rocked by increasing job losses, poor holiday shopping reports and the ongoing inability of the government and the private sector to stabilize the economy."

However, there was one bright spot in the latest findings: People are a little less gloomy when it comes to their expectations for the future. The "expectations index," one of four subsections of the overall index, improved to minus 11.3 in January from minus 21.2 in December.

"Although still in negative territory, the index's improvement may signal rising hope for the future," RBC said. "The improvement may be driven by Americans' openness to the stimulus proposals coming out of Washington rather than any expectation that local economies will improve quickly."

Still, T.J. Marta, the bank's economic and fixed-income strategist in New York, had a warning for U.S. president-elect Barrack Obama. "Many consumers appear to be holding their breath to see what the new administration will do to address the struggling economy," he said in a news release. "A lack of decisive action or some quick results could negatively affect the economic confidence of the American public, causing it to sink yet further."

(RBC said the survey of 1,000 adults across the United States was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent.)

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