BC small business confidence inches down in January

BC entrepreneurs still have third highest optimism in country

VANCOUVER, January 26, 2017 – According to the latest monthly Business Barometer survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), BC’s small business optimism was down 4.3 points in January to 65.2. 

After three consecutive increases, BC small business confidence fell slightly to start the New Year. Despite the decline, BC’s January 2017 confidence levels remain above where they were to start 2016 (62.8).Further, the province continues to be home to some of the most optimistic small businesses in the country, behind just Quebec (68.6) and Manitoba (67.1). BC continues to maintain a significant but narrower lead over the national average, now at 5.1 points (60.1).

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.

“Despite the decline to start the New Year, British Columbia entrepreneurs are still optimistic about their prospects for 2017,” said Aaron Aerts, BC economist. “Further, for the first time since June 2016, entrepreneurs are becoming more bullish about their hiring intentions.”

To view the full report, please visit Business Barometer

The overall small business hiring intentions were up in January. In January, 18 per cent plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, up two points from December.  In contrast, 10 per cent are looking to cut back, down one point from December.

Forty-five per cent of entrepreneurs in January believe the general state of health of their business is good, the same as in December. That compares to just ten per cent of BC small businesses who describe their business’ health as poor, up one point from last month.

Tax and regulatory costs continue to be the main cost constraint on businesses as indicated by over half of respondents (56 per cent).  Wage costs are also a significant constraint, with half of entrepreneurs citing them as difficult to manage (50 per cent). Small businesses have also increasingly had difficulties finding skilled labour, with 42 per cent indicating its limiting sales or production.

The national Business Barometer index fell by 0.6 points in January to 60.1. The provincial numbers were: Quebec (68.6), Manitoba (67.1), BC (65.2), Nova Scotia (65.2), PEI (64.6), New Brunswick (63.5), Ontario (63.4), Saskatchewan (55.0), Alberta (47.2) and Newfoundland (46.0).

The January 2017 findings are based on 782 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through to January 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.5 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 msbc@cfib.ca.  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.