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BC small business confidence down again in September

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Third consecutive decline; now home to third most optimistic entrepreneurs

VANCOUVER, September 29, 2016 – According to the latest monthly Business Barometer survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), BC’s small business optimism decreased 2.3 points in August to 63.3.

The decline, following two previous drops, brings BC small business optimism down in the provincial rankings. BC is now home to the third most optimistic entrepreneurs across the country, behind Quebec (67.1) and PEI (63.9). Once again, BC’s margin over the national average narrowed, now just 4.3 points above (59.0). While BC is still in the top three, confidence is now back to where it was at the start of the year and significantly below the levels seen in 2014 and the first half of 2015, when the index hovered around 70.

Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. An index level of between 65 and 75 means the economy is growing at its potential.

“British Columbia has seen a few months of softening business optimism,” said Aaron Aerts, BC economist. “It is now just outside the range of healthy economic growth. That being said, it remains at a reasonably high level and is the third highest in the country.”

To view the full report, click here.

BC small businesses still intend to ramp up hiring, but intentions were down in September. In September, 22 per cent plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, down four points from August. In comparison, 14 per cent are looking to cut back, up three points from August.

Forty-three per cent of entrepreneurs in September believe the general state of health of their business is good, down four points since August. That compares to just 9 per cent of BC small businesses who describe their business’ health as poor, unchanged from last month.

Tax and regulatory costs are the main cost constraint on businesses as indicated by over half of respondents. Wage costs continue to become a more significant constraint, with almost half of entrepreneurs citing them as difficult to manage.

The national Business Barometer index fell 0.8 points in September to 59.0. The provincial numbers were: Quebec (67.1), PEI (63.9), BC (63,3), Nova Scotia (61.6), Ontario (60.5), New Brunswick (59.2), Manitoba (54.7), Saskatchewan (54.1), Alberta (47.1) and Newfoundland (41.1).

The September 2016 findings are based on 573 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through to September 19. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 4.1 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Aaron Aerts, BC Economist, about the BC results, please call 604-684-5325 or email [email protected]. To interview Chief Economist Ted Mallett, about the national results, please call 416-222-8022. For more information about CFIB, visit cfib-fcei.ca.

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 B.C.