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Sask small biz optimism drops in July; now lowest in Canada

According to the latest monthly Business Barometer®, optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan dropped to an index of 50.0 in July, from 51.8 in June, which is 10 points below the national average index of 60.7.

It is concerning to see optimism among Saskatchewan's small businesses lose some footing in July. Its index of 50.0 is still trailing the national average by 10 points and is now the lowest in the country.

Employment plans are also negative with only seven per cent of business owners looking to hire (the lowest in the country) and 12 per cent are planning to reduce full-time staff in the months ahead. Only 31 per cent of Saskatchewan entrepreneurs are saying that their businesses are in good shape, while 12 per cent see their firms as in poor shape.

Nationally, small business optimism, which had stumbled in June, failed to pick itself up in July. CFIB’s index drifted down 0.2 points to 60.7 this month from 60.9 in June.

Below par results in Ontario are continuing to weigh down cross-country confidence. We also saw small declines across western Canada which muted stronger results in Manitoba, Quebec and the Atlantic region. Overall the results are mediocre by historical standards, but in line with the sentiment we’ve seen over the last half of last year.

British Columbia (65.9) and Alberta (57.3) both saw confidence fall by four points in July, while Saskatchewan (50.0)saw a two point dip. Ontario (59.5) recovered a point and a half after its 10 point plummet last month. Manitoba’s confidence (68.9) increased by nearly two points to reach a five-year high. Quebec (68.9) saw a three point gain, while Prince Edward Island (73.8) leapt six points to top spot in the country. Nova Scotia (66.9) confidence increased by three points, and New Brunswick (63.9) held steady. Optimism remains subdued in Newfoundland and Labrador (51.8), but a three and a half point increase in July means it’s no longer the lowest in the country. Results and the full report are available at:

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for July:

  • 31% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (43% nationally); 12% say it is bad (10% nationally).
  • 12% plan to decrease employment in the next 3-4 months (12% nationally) and 7% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment (14% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (49%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (27%), and management skills, time constraints (22%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (57%), wage costs (47%) and insurance costs (44%).

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Topics in this Article: Economic Studies