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BC small business confidence slips in February

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BC entrepreneurs’ optimism now 7th best among provinces

VANCOUVER, February 23, 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 1.5 points in February to 63.7. 

BC small business confidence dropped for the second month in a row to start 2017. Despite the decline, BC’s February confidence level remains above where it was the same month last year (61.1). The province fell in the provincial rankings to seventh overall, from third last month. However, the drop in rank was largely due to confidence gains made in other provinces rather than weakness in BC optimism. With the gains in other provinces, BC’s lead over the national index has eroded, now at just 0.8 points (62.9).

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 entrepreneurs have started the year feeling a little less optimistic about their business growth in 2017,” said Aaron Aerts, BC economist. “However, these latest numbers still represents a reasonably strong reading and BC maintains a lead over the national index.”

To view the full report, please visit Business Barometer

The overall hiring intentions were improved in February. Eighteen per cent of small business owners plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, the same as in January.  But only seven per cent say they are looking to cut back, down three points from January.

Forty-nine per cent of entrepreneurs in February believe the general state of health of their business is good, up four points from January. That compares to just eight per cent of BC business owners who describe their business’ health as poor, down two points from last month.

Tax and regulatory costs continue to be the main cost constraint on businesses as indicated by over half of respondents (59 per cent).  Small businesses also face difficulties finding skilled labour, with 39 per cent indicating its limiting sales or production.

The national Business Barometer index gained 2.8 points in February to 62.9. The provincial numbers were: Manitoba (66.9), Quebec (66.6), PEI (66.1), Nova Scotia (65.2), New Brunswick (64.8), Ontario (64.7), BC (63.7), Saskatchewan (57.7), Alberta (49.8), and Newfoundland (43.6).

The 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 to February 12. 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 [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.