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BC small business confidence down slightly in August

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Province still home to second most optimistic entrepreneurs

VANCOUVER, August 25, 2016 – According to the latest monthly Business Barometer survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), BC’s small business optimism decreased 0.8 points in August to 65.6. 

The slight decline in BC small business optimism did not impact its provincial rank. BC is still home to the second most optimistic entrepreneurs across the country, behind just PEI (70.5). However, BC’s margin over the national average continued to narrow, now just 5.8 points above (59.8). Despite remaining at the top of the pack, BC’s business confidence remains 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 slight softening of business optimism over the past couple of months,” said Aaron Aerts, BC economist. “However, it still remains at a healthy level, with a majority of small businesses planning to expand over the coming year. And nearly half of entrepreneurs currently believe their business is in good shape, compared to just nine per cent who consider it as poor.”

To view the full report, please visit Business Barometer

BC small businesses still intend to ramp up hiring, but intentions have softened slightly. In August, 26 per cent plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, the same as in July.  In comparison, 11 per cent are looking to cut back, up two points from July.

Forty-seven per cent of entrepreneurs in August believe the general state of health of their business is good, up a point since July. That compares to just 9 per cent of BC small businesses who describe their business’ health as poor, down a point from July.

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

For the first time in several months, the least optimistic province in Canada is no longer Alberta. Newfoundland now has that distinction, with an August index reading of 37.8. The national Business Barometer index increased 2.2 points in August to 59.8. The provincial numbers were: PEI (70.5), BC (65.6), Quebec (64.9), New Brunswick (63.0), Ontario (62.6), Nova Scotia (62.3), Manitoba (56.1), Saskatchewan (54.9), Alberta (45.6) and Newfoundland (37.8).

The August 2016 findings are based on 603 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through to August 14. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 4.0 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.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.