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AB small business confidence continues to bounce back

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Index climbs above 50 for the first time since January 2015

Calgary, March 30, 2017 – Alberta small business confidence rose more than five and a half points in March to 55.5 according to the monthly Business Barometer® index published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  This is the first time since January 2015 that business owners expecting stronger business performance next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance.

“Small business confidence is gaining traction, and confidence levels in Alberta are approaching the national average.  There is however a long way to go for the Alberta economy to reach historic norms.  Although confidence for the future is up, one-in-three Alberta business owners say their current operations are in bad shape,” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta.

Short-term employment plans are negative with twenty-two per cent of respondents looking to cut back on staffing while 13 per cent are looking to hire.  Compared to the previous month, plans for staffing reductions are down five points and employers looking to hire is up one point.

The top three major cost constraints for Alberta entrepreneurs are: tax and regulatory costs (75 per cent), fuel and energy costs (67 per cent), and wage pressures (60 per cent).  Sixty-two per cent of Alberta businesses say lack of demand for products and services is their biggest limitation.

The general state of business remained negative.  Thirty per cent of business owners say the general state of business health is bad, while 19 per cent state they are in good shape.

“Three-quarters of Alberta businesses say high taxes and burdensome regulations are a pinch point.  With the current review of workplace rules, the Alberta government has the opportunity ease rigid business requirements.  Ultimately, any labour legislation changes must be thoroughly vetted by small business owners before being introduced,” said Ruddy.

The national Business Barometer index remained at 62.9.  The other provincial numbers were: Nova Scotia (65.9), Quebec (65.7), Ontario (65.6), British Columbia (64.9), Manitoba (64.5), New Brunswick (63.8), PEI (58.6), Saskatchewan (56.3) and Newfoundland & Labrador (42.2).

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 75 when the economy is growing at its potential.

March 2017 findings are based on 730 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey.  Data reflect responses received through March 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.  Read the March Business Barometer®.

To speak with Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director, please contact [email protected] or 403-444-9290. To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, Chief Economist, about the national results, please contact Kiara Morrissey at 416-222-8022, 647-464-2814 or [email protected].

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in Alberta.