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The economic picture may be brightening, but Canadians are still worried about job security.

Those are the findings of a consumer outlook survey released Monday by the Royal Bank of Canada. The overall index rose last month, with 62 per cent of respondents now saying they expect the economy to improve over the next year.

But they're still anxious about their jobs. One in four Canadians say a member of their household is worried about losing his or her job or being laid off, a portion that's little changed from January.

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Job anxiety increased in Ontario, to 30 per cent from 25 per cent, and Atlantic Canada, to 24 per cent from 18 per cent. It fell in other parts of the country.

Canadians are split on their opinions of the overall state of the economy. Fifty-three per cent describe the economy as good and 47 per cent describe it as bad in February.

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As March break looms, a fifth of people are planning "staycations" this month, primarily for financial reasons, said David McKay, group head of Canadian banking.

"The continuing high levels of concern about job loss are likely a factor in those financial reasons."

The percentage of Canadians who think that their personal financial situation will improve in the next three months fell to 30 per cent in February from 32 per cent in January. In the longer term, more than four-in-10 Canadians expect their personal economic situation to improve over the next year.

About two-thirds of Canadians expect interest rates to go up in the next six months.

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About 280,000 jobs have disappeared since October, 2008, and "this could be responsible for Canadians' relatively high level of job anxiety," said Robert Hogue, the bank's senior economist. However, "we expect to see a sustained improvement in the labour market over the course of the year."

The bank's monthly consumer outlook index, launched in November, is based on the results of an online survey of 1,064 adult Canadians. It was conducted by Ipsos Reid between Feb. 9 and Feb. 12.

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About the Author

Tavia Grant has worked at The Globe and Mail since early 2005, covering topics from employment and currency markets to trade, microfinance and Latin American economies. She previously worked for Bloomberg News in Toronto and Zurich, writing on mining, stocks, currencies and secret Swiss bank accounts. More

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