Manitoba small business optimism falls again in October

According to the latest monthly Business Barometer®, optimism among small business owners in Manitoba fell 1.8 points in October to an index of 55.5, compared to 57.3 in September.

Short-term hiring plans are negative with 16 per cent of business owners looking to cut back and 13 per cent looking to hire. About 40 per cent of business owners say their businesses are in good shape, while only 7 per cent report that their firms are in poor shape.

Nationally, after four months of sharp decline, small business confidence in Canada steadied in October. CFIB's monthly Business Barometer Index registered a weak 57.2 this month, but it is 0.3 points higher than September’s dismal showing. As recently as last May, by comparison, the index had been at a cyclical high of 66.0.

Results are mixed across the regions. Despite losing ground, Quebec remains the most optimistic place for business owners, with an index of 67.6. Nova Scotia businesses are a step back in second spot at 62.5, while improving sentiment in British Columbia brought its index up to 61.9. Lowest levels of optimism are seen in Newfoundland & Labrador (48.3) and Saskatchewan (52.7)—results typical of the past 18 months in both provinces. For the rest of the country, a generally sour mood has kept index values clustered around the 55 mark. Results and the full report are available at:

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for October:

  • 40% of small businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (41% nationally); 7% say it is bad (11% nationally).
  • 13% of Manitoba small businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (16% nationally), and 16% plan to decrease employment (17% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (34%), followed by management skills/time constraints (29%), and shortage of skilled labour (27%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax/regulatory costs (66%), wage costs (54%), and fuel, energy costs (39%).

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. October 2017 findings are based on 727 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through October 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.