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Manitoba small biz optimism declines slightly in April

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  • Manitoba small biz optimism declines slightly in April

According to the latest monthly Business Barometer®, optimism among small business owners in Manitoba declined slightly again in April to an index of 63.5, compared to 64.5 in March.

Short-term hiring plans also remain modest with 13 per cent of business owners looking to hire and seven per cent looking to lay off. About 40 per cent of business owners say their businesses are in good shape— a lower proportion than the national results.

However, Manitoba’s index is almost 10 points ahead of its April 2016 index of 54.0 and also above Manitoba’s five year average (61.2).

Nationally, Canada's small business optimism is on the rise again in April. CFIB's Index gained a point and a half to finish the month at 64.4—its best level since November 2014. The Index is also less than a point from its 2010-14 average, which suggests that while lingering effects of the oil price shock persist in some regions, business expectations are readjusting to a new set of economic drivers.

April's national gains were supported mostly by strong optimism growth in Ontario (68.7)British Columbia (67.1) and continuing improvements in business sentiment in Alberta (57.9). Relative weakness, however, persists in Newfoundland & Labrador (43.8) and Saskatchewan (55.1), which have both seen little improvement in optimism levels for a number of months. There is broad uniformity, though, in the remaining provinces, where index levels cluster around the mid-60s, suggesting general robustness to the business outlook. Results and the full report are available at: www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/barometer.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for April:

  • 40% of small businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (42% nationally); 10% say it is bad (12% nationally).
  • 13% of Manitoba small businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (17% nationally), and 7% plan to decrease employment (13% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (39%), followed by management skills/time constraints (33%), and shortage of skilled labour (23%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax/regulatory costs (62%), wage costs (48%), 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. April 2017 findings are based on 653 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through April 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.8 per cent 19 times in 20.