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Alberta small business confidence continues slow recovery

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Resources sector now the most upbeat sector with an index reading of 69.2

Calgary, February 23, 2017 – Alberta small business confidence rose two and a half points in February to 49.8 according to the monthly Business Barometer® index published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  Ground lost since 2015 has been regained and there is a notable jump in small business confidence among business owners in the natural resources sector (69.2).

Employment plans within the next three months are moving closer to balance with 27 per cent of Alberta businesses saying they may have to cut back on employees, down three points from January.  Twelve per cent are looking to hire, up one point over the month before.  “It appears the worst of the recession is behind us, but despite a fragile recovery the provincial government is still aggressively moving ahead with carbon taxes, minimum wage hikes, and changes to employment rules,” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta.

The price of fuel and energy is a major cost constraint for 72 per cent of Alberta businesses, up another 4 points- the highest it’s been in six years.  Seventy-six per cent of entrepreneurs list tax and regulatory costs as a major cost constraint.

The general state of business remained negative.  Thirty per cent of business owners say the general state of business health is bad, while 20 per cent state they are in good shape.

“Entrepreneurs are teetering on a ‘glass half full’ outlook even with the poor public policies choices being made by the Alberta government.  All eyes will be on the upcoming provincial budget for signs that Alberta is truly open for business,” said Ruddy.

The national Business Barometer index sits at 62.9.  The other provincial numbers were: Manitoba (66.9), Quebec (66.6), PEI (66.1), Nova Scotia (65.2), New Brunswick (64.8), Ontario (64.7), British Columbia (63.7), Saskatchewan (57.7) and Newfoundland & Labrador (43.6).

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.

February 2017 findings are based on 943 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled access web survey.  Data reflect responses received through February 12. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.2 per cent 19 times in 20.

Read the February 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.